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Copyright, 1947, by Princeton University Press 
Manufactured in the United States of America 

Hardback Reprint Edition, im 


This book is not concerned with German films merely for their own 
sake ; rather, it aims at increasing our knowledge of pre-Hitler Ger- 
many in a specific way. 

It is my contention that through an analysis of the German 
films deep psychological dispositions predominant in Germany from 
1918 to 1933 can be exposed — dispositions which influenced the 
course of events during that time and which will have to be reck- 
oned with in the post-Hitler era. 

I have reason to believe that the use made here of films as a 
medium of research can profitably be extended to studies of current 
mass behavior in the United States and elsewhere. I also believe that 
studies of this kind may help in the planning of films — ^not to men- 
tion other media of commtmication — ^which will effectively implement 
the cultural aims of the United Nations. 

I am most indebted to Miss Iris Barry, Curator of the Museum 
of Modern Art Film Library, New York, to whom my book literally 
owes its existence; she not only suggested this study, but assisted 
generously and in many ways towards its realization. I am grateful 
to the Rockefeller Foundation, which enabled me to embark upon 
my enterprise, and to Mr. John Marshall of that ofiice for his con- 
tinued interest in its progress. I wish to express my deep gratitude 
to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, which hon- 
ored me twice with a fellowship, and to Mr. Henry Allen Moe, 
Secretary General of this Foundation, who never tired of furthering 
my endeavors. Aoaong those to whom I am very indebted for con- 
tinual advice and help in the organization of the material and in 
matters of style, I expressly name Miss Barbara Deming, former 
analyst of the Library of Congress Fihn Project; and Miss Mar- 
garet Miller, Miss Ruth Olson and Mr. Arthur Rosenheimer, Jr., 
staff members of the Museum of Modern Art. Sincere thanks are also 
due to the Librarian of the Museum of Modem Art, Mr. Bernard 
Karpel, and the members of the Library staff ; they patiently and 



expertly lent me a helping hand whenever I needed it and made me 
feel at home in this Library, with its invaluable facilities for studies 
of the film. Finally, I wish to thank my wife, though whatever I may 
say to thank her is insufficient. As always, she has helped me in the 
preparation of this book, and as always I have benefited greatly 
from her faculty of perceiving the essential and penetrating to its 

Siegfried Kracauer 

May, 1946 
New York City 


Preface v 

Introduction 3 

I: THE ARCHAIC PERIOD (1895-1918) 

1. Peace aistd War 16 

2. Forebodings 28 

3. Genesis of Ufa 35 


4. The Shock of Freedom 43 

5. Caligari 61 

6. Procession of Ttrants 77 

7. Destiny 88 

8. Mxtte Chaos 96 


10. From Rebei^lion to Submission 115 


11. Decline 131 

12. Frozen Ground 138 

13. The Prostitute and the Adolescent 163 

14. The New Kealism 166 
16. Montage 181 

16. Brief Reveille 190 


17. Songs and Illusions 203 

18. Murderer Among Us 216 

19. Timid Heresies 223 

20. For a Better World 232 

21. National Epic 261 





1, Nazi Vebws and Measures 

2, Ftlm Devices 

3, The Swastika World 
4i. Screen Dramaturgy 

5. Conflict with Reality 

Strtjctural Analysis 









1 . Passion : The threat of mass domination 

2. CAX.IGABI : Insane authority 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

3. Caligahi: A draftsman's imagination 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

4. Caligari: Tlie tlirce flights of stairs in the lunatic 
asylum symbolize Dr. Caligari's position at the top of the 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

5. Nosferattt: The vampire, defeated by love, dissolves 
into thin air 

(From Paul Rolha, The Film Till Now, Jonathan Cape, Ltd., 

6. Dr. Mabuse the Gambler : Interpenetration of realistic 
and expressionist style, betraying the close relationship 
between Mabuse and Caligari 

(From the collection of Charles L. Turner) 

7. Waxworks: A phantasmagoria — Jack-the-Rippcr pur- 
suing the lovers 

(From the collection of Charles L. Turner) 

8. Waxworks: Ivan the Terrible, an incarnation of in- 
satiable lusts and unheard-of cruelties 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

9. Destiny: The huge wall symbolizing Fate's inacces- 

(From the collection of Charles L. Turner) 

10. Nibelungen: Triumph of the ornamental over the 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

11. NibeIvUNGEn: The patterns of Nibelungen are resumed 
in Nazi pageantry 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

12. TRitTMPH OF THE WiLL: The patterns of Nibelungen are 
resumed in Nazi pageantry 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

13. New Year's Eve : The suicide of the caf 6-owner 

14. The Last Lattgh: Humiliation incarnate 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 



15. The Last I^ugh: The revolving door — something be- 
tween a merry-go-ronnd and a roulette wheel 

CFrom the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

16. A Ox^AJSs oi- Water: With its stress on symmetry ttie 
d^cor breathes romantic nostalgia 

CFrom the coUection of Charles L. Turner) 

17. Peak of Destiny: Mountain climbers are devotees per- 
forming the rites of a cult 

CFrom the collection of Dr. Kurt Pinthus) . j u 

18. Tm Goi^m: The Golem, a figure of clay, animated by 
his master. Rabbi Loew , , , 

CFrom the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

19. Warning Shadows: Magical therapy— the Count and 
his guests follow their shadows into the realm o± tiie 

CFrom the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

20. Fridericus Rex: The young king 

CFrom the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

21. The Street: Mute objects take on life 

CFrom the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

22. The Street: This gesture — recurrent m many Cicrman 
films — ^is symptomatic of the desire to return to the 
maternal womb 

CFrom the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

23. Variety: Mannings' bulky back plays a conspicuous role 
in the prison scene 

CFrom the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

24. Varjetx: The inquisitive camera breaks mto the magic 
circle of action 

CFrom the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

25. Wats to Strejtgth and Beauty: Tableau vvvant of a 
Greek gymnasium 

CFrom the collection of Dr. Kurt Pinthus) 

26. Tarttteee: The grand-style manner 

27. METTIOPOI.IS : Sham alliance between labor and capital 

CFrom the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

28. MetropoiiIs: Ornamental despair 

CFrom the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

29. The Joyuess Street: Asta Nielsen in one of the roles m 
which she discards social conventions in her abundance 
of love 

CFrom the Museum o£ Modern Art Film Library) 
30- KTampf der Tbrtia: One of the many youth films ex- 
pressing a longing for adolescence 

CFrom the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 



31. The Joyless Street: The ghastliness of real life 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

32. The Joyless Street : Realism, not symbolism 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

33. Secrets of a Soul: Dreams cinema tically externalized 

34. The Love op Jeanne Ney : The orgy of anti-Bolshevist 
soldiery — scene elicited from life itself 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

35. The Love of Jeanne Ney: The broken mirror, a silent 
witness, tells of glamour and destruction 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

36. The Love of Jeanne Ney : Casual configurations of life 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

37. Berlin : Patterns of movement 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

38. Berlin : What once denoted chaos is now simply part of 
the record — a fact among facts 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

39. Berlin: A close-up of the gutter illustrates the harsh- 
ness of mechanized life 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

40. Accident: The use of distorting mirrors helps to defy 
deep-rooted conventions 

(From the collection of Charles L. Turner) 

41. Drei von der Tankstelle: A playful daydream woven 
of the materials of everyday life 

42. Song of Life : A symbolic scene which glorifies vitality 

(From the collection of Herman G. Weinberg) 

43. The Man Without a Name: The nightmarish work- 
ings of bureaucracy 

44. The Victor: Hans Albers, the embodiment of popular 

45. The Blue Angel : Jannings as the professor taunted by 
his pupils 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

46. The Blue Angel: Marlene Dietrich as Lola Lola — 
provocative legs and an over-all impassivity 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

47. M : The empty stairwell echoing with the cries of Elsie's 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

48. M: The knives reflected around Lorre's face define him 
as a prisoner of his evil urges 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 


4<9, M: The group of criminals, beggars and street women 
sitting in judgment on the child-murderer 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

60. Emxi. TJ3srr> i>rE IDetektive: The thief, a Pied Piper in 
reverse, pursued by the children under a radiant morn- 
ing sun 

51. Madchejst in Uniform:: The headmistress — a feminine 
Frederick the Grreat 

(From the collection of Theodore Huff) 
52- MAdchen losr UasriFORM : To pz'epare the audience for this 
scene, the staircase is featured throughout the film' 
(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 
63. Westi'iiont 1918: Pield hospital filled with moans and 
agonized cries 

(From the collection of Herman O. Weinberg) 
54i. Tbce BEGa-AJR's Opera: G-lass screens transform the 
crowded and smoky caf6 into a confusing maze 

(From Paul ilotha. Celluloid, Longmans, Green & Co., Inc., 

65. CoMRAr>ESiiEP : The German miners about to remove the 
iron fence set up since Versailles 

(From the collection of Herman G. Weinberg) 

66. Comradeship: Grerman miners in the shower room ^the 

audience is let into one of the arcana of everyday life 

(From William Hunter, ScruUny of Cinema, Wishart & Co., 

57. KUBCI.E Wampe: Young athletes at the Red sports 
festival which glorifies collective life 

58. EianT G-iRLS nsr a Boat : This film betrays the affinity of 
the earlier Youth Movement with the Nazi spirit 

69. Avalanche: Emphasis on cloud conglomerations in- 
dicates the ultimate fusion of the mountain- and the 

60. Trittmph: op the Wixi.: Emphasis on cloud conglomera- 
tions indicates the ultimate fusion of the mountain- and 
the Hitler-cult 

(From the Museum of Modern Art Film Library) 

61. Tdse Kebei.: A thinly masked Hitlerite 

62. The Bx-xtde LiIG-ht: Junta, an incarnation of elemental 

(From the collection of Herman G. Weinberg) 

63. Tke AiTTBCEM: OP LiExtxhen: The old king 
64f. Dawiq-: The smell of real war 





When, from 1920 on, German films began to break the boycott 
established by the Allies against the former enemy, they struck 
New York, London and Paris audiences as achievements that were 
as puzzling as they were fascinating.^ Archetype of all forthcoming 
postwar films, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari aroused passionate dis- 
cussions. While one critic called it "the first significant attempt at 
the expression of a creative mind in the medium of cinematog- 
raphy,*' ^ another stated : "It has the odor of tainted food. It leaves 
a taste of cinders in the mouth." ^ In exposing the German soul, the 
postwar films seemed to make even more of a riddle of it. Macabre, 
sinister, morbid: these were the favorite adjectives used in describing 

With the passage of time the German movies changed themes 
and modes of representation. But despite all changes they preserved 
certain traits typical of their sensational start — even after 1924, a 
year considered the beginning of a long period of decline. In the 
appraisal of these traits complete unanimity has been reached among 
American and European observers. What they most admire is the 
talent with which, from the time of Caligari, German film directors 
marshaled the whole visual sphere: their outspoken feeling for im- 
pressive settings, their virtuosity in developing action through ap- 
propriate lighting. Connoisseurs also appreciate the conspicuous 
part played in German films by a camera which the Germans were 
the first to render completely mobile. In addition, there is no expert 
who would not acknowledge the organizational power operative in 
these films — a collective discipline which accounts for the unity of 

^ Lubitsch's historical costume film Passxcmt — ^Ihe first German production to be 
brought to this country — ^was shown at New York late in 1920. In April 1921, there 
followed the New York release of The Cabinet op Dr. Cauoabi. 

a Rotha, JFam TiU Now, p. 178. 

» Amiguet, Cinimal CMmal, p. 87. 




narrative as well as for the perfect integration of lights, settings and 
actors.'* Owing to such unique values, the German screen exerted 
world-wide influence, especially after the total evolution of its' studio 
and camera devices in The Last Laugh (1924) and Vauiety 
(1925). "It was the German camera-work (in the fullest sense of 
that term) which most deeply impressed Hollywood." In a char- 
acteristic expression of respect, Hollywood hired all the German film 
directors, actors and technicians it could get its hands on. France, 
too, proved susceptible to screen manners on the other side of the 
Rhine, And the classic Russian films benefited by the German science 
of lighting.^ 

Admiration and imitation, however, need not be based on intrinsic 
understanding. Much has been written about the German cinema, in 
a continual attempt to analyze its exceptional qualities and, if pos- 
sible, to solve the disquieting problems bound up with its existence. 
But this literature, essentially aesthetic, deals with films as if they 
were autonomous structures. Eor example, the question as to why it 
was in Germany that the camera first reached complete mobility has 
not even been raised. Nor has the evolution of the German cinema 
been grasped. Paul Rotha, who along with the collaborators of the 
English film magaziae Close Up early recognized the artistic merits 
of German films, confines himself to a merely chronological scheme. 
"In surveying the German cinema from the end of the war until the 
coming of the American dialogue film," he says, "the output may 
roughly be divided into three groups. Firstly, the theatrical costume 
picture ; secondly, the big middle period of the studio art films ; and 
thirdly, the decline of the German film in order to fall into line with 
the American ^picture-sense' output." Why these three groups of 
films were bound to follow each other, Rotha does not try to explain. 
Such external accounts are the rule. They lead straight into danger- 
ous misconceptions. Attributing the decline after 1924 to the exodus 
of important German film people and American interference in 
German film business, most authors dispose of the German pictures 
of the time by qualifying them as "Americanized" or "intemational- 

* Rotha, Film Till Now, pp. 177-78; Barry, Program Notes, Series I, program 4, 
and Series III, program 2j Potamkin, "Kino and Lichtspiel," Close Uf, Nov. 1929, p. 
888; Vincent, JStstoire de VArt Cin4matographiquef pp. 189-40. 

* Barry, Program Notes, Series I, program 4. 

* Jahier "42 Ans de Cinima,** Le Bdle intellectuel dii Cinema, p. S6. 

Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 177.— It should be noted that Rotha expresses the views 
then held of the German movies by French and English film aesthetes, although his 
book is more vigorous and perceptive than those which had preceded it 



ized" products.^ It will be seen that these allegedly ^^Americanized" 
films were in fact true expressions of contemporaneous German life. 
And, in general, it will be seen that the technique, the story content, 
and the evolution of the films of a nation are fully imderstandable 
only in relation to the actual psychological pattern of this nation. 


The films of a nation reflect its mentality in a more direct way 
than other artistic media for two reasons : 

First, fihns are never the product of an individual. The Russian 
film director Pudovkin emphasizes the collective character of film 
production by identifying it with industrial production: "The tech- 
nical manager can achieve nothing witihout foremen emd workmen 
and their collective effort will lead to no good result if every collab- 
orator limits himself only to a mechanical performance of his narrow 
function. Team work is that which makes every, even the most 
insignificant, task a part of the living work and organically connects 
it to the general task." ^ Prominent German film directors shared 
these views and acted accordingly. Watching the shooting of a film 
directed by G. W. Pabst in the French JoinviUe studios, I noticed 
that he readily followed the suggestions of his technicians as to 
details of the settings and the distribution of lights. Pabst told me 
that he considered contributions of that kind invaluable. Since any 
film production unit embodies a mixture of heterogeneous interests 
and inclinations, teamwork in this field tends to exclude arbitrary 
handling of screen material, suppressing individual peculiarities in 
favor of traits conamon to many people.^** 

Second, films address themselves, and appeal, to the anonymous 
multitude. Popular films — or, to be more precise, popular screen 
motifs — can therefore be supposed to satisfy existing mass desires. 
It has occasionally been remarked that HoEywood manages to sell 
films which do not give the masses what they really want. In this 
opinion Hollywood films more often than not stultify and misdirect 
a public persuaded by its own passivity and by overwhelming pub- 
licity into accepting them. However, the distorting influence of 

8 Bardfeche and Brasillach, Miatory of Motion Pictures, p. 258 ff.; Vincent, JBfia- 
toire de VArt Cindmatographique, pp. 161-62; Rotha, FUm Till Now, pp. 176-77; 
Jeanne, «Le C3n6ma AUemand," L'Art Cin4matogra^higu», VIII, 42 ff.j etc 

• Pudovkin, Film Teohnig^ue, p. 186. 

10 BaXizB, Der Geist des Fiknt, pp. 187-88. 



Hollywood mass entertainment should not be overrated. The manip- 
ulator depends upon the inherent qualities of his material; even the 
official Nazi war fihns, pure propaganda products as they were, mir- 
rored certain national characteristics which could not be f abricated.^^ 
What holds true of them applies all the more to the films of a com- 
petitive society. Hollywood cannot afford to ignore spontaneity on 
the part of the pubhc. General discontent becomes apparent in wan- 
ing box-office receipts, and the film industry, vitally interested in 
profit, is bound to adjust itself, so far as possible, to the changes of 
mental dimate. To be sure, American audiences receive what Holly- 
wood wants them to want ; but in the long run public desires deter- 
mine the nature of Hollywood films.^^ 


What fihns reflect are not so much explicit credos as psycho- 
logical dispositions — ^those deep layers of collective mentality which 
extend more or less below the dimension of consciousness. Of course, 
popular magazines and broadcasts, bestsellers, ads, fashions in lan- 
guage and other sedimentary products of a people's cultural life also 
yield valuable information about predominant attitudes, widespread 
inner tendencies. But the medium of the screen exceeds these sources 
in inclusiveness. 

Owing to diverse camera activities, cutting and many special 
devices, films are able, and therefore obhged, to scan the whole visible 
world. This effort results in what Erwin Panofsky in a memorable 
lecture defined as the "dynamization of space" : "In a movie theater 
. . . the spectator has a fixed seat, but only physically. . . . 
Aesthetically, he is in permanent motion, as his eye identifies itself 
with the lens of the camera which permanently shifts in distance 
and direction. And the space presented to the spectator is as movable 
as the spectator is himself. Not only do solid bodies move in space, 
but space itself moves, changing, turning, dissolving and recrystal- 
lizing. • , 

See the analyses of these films in the Supplement. 

laCf. Parrell, **Will the Commercialization of Publishing Destroy Good Writing?" 
New Directions, 9, 1946, p. 26. 

13 In pre-Hitler Germany, the film industry was less concentrated than in this 
country. Ufa was preponderant without being omnipotent, and smaller companies car- 
ried on beside the bigger ones. This led to a diversity of products, which intensified the 
reflective function of the German screen. 

i*Panofsky, "Style and Medium in the Moving Pictures," tramition, 1987, pp. 



In the course of their spatial conquests, films of fiction and fihns 
of fact alike capture innumerable components of the world they 
mirror: huge mass displays, casual configurations of human bodies 
and inanimate objects, and an endless succession of unobtrusive 
phenomena. As a matter of fact, the screen shows itself particularly 
concerned with the unobtrusive, the normally neglected. Preceding 
all other cinematic devices, close-ups appeared at the very beginning 
of the cinema and continued to assert themselves throughout its his- 
tory. "When I got to directing films," Erich von Stroheim told an 
interviewer, "I would work day and night, without food, without 
sleeping sometimes, to have every detail perfect, even to descriptions 
of how facial expressions should change." Films seem to fulfill an 
innate mission in ferreting out minutiae. 

Inner life manifests itself in various elements and conglomera- 
tions of external life, especially in those almost imperceptible surface 
data which form an essential part of screen treatment. In recording 
the visible world — whether current reality or an imaginary universe 
— ^films therefore provide clues to hidden mental processes. Survey- 
ing the era of silent films, Horace M. Kallen points to the revealing 
function of close-ups : "Slight actions, such as the incidental play of 
the fingers, the opening or clenching of a hand, dropping a handker- 
chief, playing with some apparently irrelevant object, stumbling, 
falling, seeking and not finding and the like, became the visible hiero- 
glyphs of the unseen dynamics of human relations. . . ^® Films 
are particularly inclusive because their '^visible hieroglyphs'* supple- 
ment the testimony of their stories proper. And permeating both the 
stories and the visuals, the "unseen dynamics of human relations" 
are more or less characteristic of the inner life of the nation from 
which the films emerge. 

That films particularly suggestive of mass desires coincide with 
outstanding box-office successes would seem a matter of course. But a 
hit may cater only to one of many coexisting demands, and not even 
to a very specific one. In her paper on the methods of selection of 
films to be preserved by the Library of Congress, Barbara Deming 
elaborates upon this point : **Even if one could figure out . . . which 
were the most popular films, it might turn out that in saving those 
at the top, one would be saving the same dream over and over again 
. . . and losing other dreams which did not happen to appear in the 

Lewis, "Erich von Stroheim . . New York Times, June 22, 1941. 
Eallen, Art and Freedom^ II, 809. 



most popular individual pictures but did appear over and over again 
in a great number of cheaper, less popular pictures." What counts 
is not so much the statistically measurable popularity of films as the 
popularity of their pictorial and narrative motifs. Persistent reitera- 
tion of these motifs marks them as outward projections of inner 
urges. And they obviously carry most symptomatic weight when they 
occur in both popular and unpopular fQms, in grade B pictures as 
well as in superproductions. This history of the German screen is a 
history of motifs pervading films of all levels. 


To speak of the peculiar mentality of a nation by no means 
implies the concept of a fixed national character. The interest here 
lies exclusively in such collective dispositions or tendencies as prevail 
within a nation at a certain stage of its development. What fears and 
hopes swept Germany immediately after World War I? Questions of 
this kind are legitimate because of their limited range ; incidentally, 
they are the only ones which can be answered by an appropriate 
analysis of the films of the time. In other words, this book is not con- 
cerned with establishing some national character pattern allegedly 
elevated above history, but it is concerned with the psychological 
pattern of a people at a particular time. There is no lack of studies 
covering the political, social, economic and cultural history of the 
great nations. I propose to add to these weH-known types that of a 
psychological history. 

It is always possible that certain screen motifs are relevant only 
to part of the nation, but' caution in this respect should not prejudice 
one against the existence of tendencies ajffecting the nation as a 
whole. They are the less questionable as conomon traditions and per- 
manent interrelationship between the different strata of the popula- 
tion exert a unifying influence in the depths of collective life. In pre- 
Nazi Germany, middle-class penchants penetrated all strata; they 
competed with the political aspirations of the Left and also filled the 
voids of the upper-class mind. This accounts for the nation-wide 
appeal of the German cinema — a cinema firmly rooted in middle- 
class mentality. From 1930 to 1933, the actor Hans Albers played 

^''DexiQing, 'The Library of Ck)ngress Film Project: Exposition of a Method," 
Library of Congresi Quarterly^ 1944, p. 20. 



the heroes of films in which typically bourgeois daydreams found 
outright fulfiUment; his exploits gladdened the hearts of worker 
audiences, and in Madchen in Uniform we see his photograph 
worshiped by the daughters of aristocratic families. 

Scientific convention has it that in the chain of motivations 
national characteristics are effects rather than causes — effects of 
natural surroundings, historic experiences, economic and social con- 
ditions. And since we are aU human beings, similar external factors 
can be expected to provoke analogous psychological reactions every- 
where. The paralysis of minds spreading throughout Germany be- 
tween 1924 and 1929 was not at all specifically German, It would be 
easy to show that under the influence of analogous circmnstances a 
similar collective paralysis occurs — and has occurred — ^in other 
countries as well.^^ However, the dependence of a people's mental 
attitudes upon external factors does not justify the frequent disre- 
gard of these attitudes. Effects may at any time turn into sponta- 
neous causes. Notwithstanding their derivative character, psycho- 
logical tendencies often assume independent life, and, instead of 
automatically changing with ever-changing circumstances, become 
themselves essential springs of historical evolution. In the course of 
its history every nation develops dispositions which survive their 
primary causes and undergo a metamorphosis of their own. They 
cannot simply be inferred from current external factors, but, con- 
versely, help determine reactions to such factors. We are all human 
beings, if sometimes in different ways. These collective dispositions 
gain momentum in cases of extreme political change. The dissolution 
of political systems results in the decomposition of psychological 
systems, and in the ensuing turmoil traditional inner attitudes, now 
released, are bound to become conspicuous, whether they are chal- 
lenged or endorsed. 


That most historians neglect the psychological factor is demon- 
strated by striking gaps in our knowledge of German history from 
World War I to Hitler's ultimate triumph — ^the period covered in 
this book. And yet the dimensions of event, milieu and ideology have 

18 Of course, such similarities never amount to more than surface resemblances. 
External circumstances are nowhere strictly identical, and whatever psychological 
tendency they entail comes true within a texture of other tendencies which color its 


been ttoroughly investigated. It is wett known that the German 
'"Revolution" of November 1918 failed to revolutionize Germany; 
that the then omnipotent Social Democratic Party proved omnip- 
otent only in breaking the backbone of the revolutionary forces, but 
was incapable of liquidating the army, the bureaucracy, the big- 
estate owners and the moneyed classes ; that these traditional powers 
actually continued to govern the Weimar Republic which came into 
shadowy being after 1919. It is also known how hard the young 
Republic was pressed by the political consequences of the defeat and 
the stratagems of the leading German industrialists and financiers 
who unrestrainedly upheld inflation, impoverishing the old middle 
class. Finally, one knows that after the five years of the Dawes Plan 
—that blessed era of foreign loans so advantageous to big business — 
the economic world crisis dissolved the mirage of stabilization, de- 
stroyed what was still left of middle-class background and democ- 
racy, and completed the general despair hy adding mass unemploy- 
ment. It was in the ruins of "the system'' which had never been a true 
structure that the Nazi spirit flourished.^^ 

But these economic, social and political factors do not suffice to 
explain the tremendous impact of Hitlerism and the chronic inertia 
in the opposite camp. Significantly, many observant Germans re- 
fused until the last moment to take Hitler seriously, and even after 
his rise to power considered the new regime a transitory adventure. 
Such opinions at least indicate that there was something unaccount- 
able in the domestic situation, something not to be inferred from 
circinnstances within the normal field of vision. 

Only a few analyses of the Weimar Republic hint at the psycho- 
logical mechanisms behind the inherent weakness of the Social Demo- 
crats, the inadequate conduct of the communists and the strange 
reactions of the German masses.^^ Franz Neumann is forced to 
explain the failure of the communists partly in terms of "their inabil- 
ity to evaluate correctly the psychological factors and sociological 
trends operating among German workers. . . Then he adds to a 
statement on the Reichstag's limited political power the revealing 
remark: "Democracy might have survived none the less — but only if 
the democratic value system had been firmly rooted in the soci- 

Cf. Kosenberg, 0»»chiehU der J>&iiUchBn JRepv^hUk; SchwaraschUd, World in 
Trance; etc. 

Outstanding among these analyses is Horkheimer, ed., Studien Uber AutoritUt 
und Familie; see especially Horkheimer, "Theorctische Entwtirfe ilber Autoritat und 
FamiJie," pp. 



ety. . . Erich Promm amplifies this by contending that the 
German workers' psychological tendencies neutralized their political 
tenets, thus precipitating the collapse of the socialist parties and the 

The behavior of broad middle-class strata also seemed to be deter- 
mined by overwhelming compulsions. In a study published in 1930 I 
pointed out the pronounced *Vhite-collar" pretensions of the bulk 
of German employees, whose economic and social status in reality 
bordered on that of the workers, or was even inferior to it.^^ Although 
these lower middle-class people could no longer hope for bourgeois 
security, they scorned all doctrines and ideals more in harmony with 
their plight, maintaining attitudes that had lost any basis in reality. 
The consequence was mental f orlomness : they persisted in a kind of 
vacuum which added further to their psychological obduracy. The 
conduct of the petty bourgeoisie proper was particularly striking. 
Small shopkeepers, tradesmen and artisans were so full of resent- 
ments that they shrank from adjusting themselves. Instead of realiz- 
ing that it might be in their practical interest to side with democracy, 
they preferred, like the employees, to listen to Nazi promises. Their 
surrender to the Nazis was based on emotional fixations rather than 
on any facing of facts. 

Thus, behind the overt history of economic shifts, social exi- 
gencies and political machinations runs a secret history involving 
the inner dispositions of the German people. The disclosure of these 
dispositions through the medium of the German screen may help in 
the understanding of Hitler's ascent and ascendancy. 

Neumann, Behemoth^ pp. 18>19, 25. 
Fronmi, Escape from Freedom, p. 281. 
Cf. Kracaucr, Die AngeitelUen, 



It was only after the first World War that the German cinema really 
came into being. Its history up to that time was prehistory, an 
archaic period insignificant in itself. However, it should not be over- 
looked. During that period — especially during the course of the 
war — certain conditions materialized which account for the extraor- 
dinary power of the German film after 1918. 

Theoretically speaking, the German cinema commenced in 1895, 
when, almost two months before Lumi^re's first public performance, 
the Brothers Skladanovsky showed their **Bioscop" in the Berlin 
Wintergarten — bits of scenes shot and projected with apparatus they 
had built.^ But this beginning was of little consequence; for until 
1910 Germany had virtually no fihn industry of its own. Films of 
French, Italian and American origin — among them those of M^li^s 
— ^ingratiated themselves with the audiences of the early tent-shows 
(Wanderkinos) f poured into the nickelodeons (LadenJci/nos) after 
1900, and then passed across the screen of the primitive movie the- 
aters proper which slowly began to evolve.^ One French celluloid 
strip of 1902, The Beggar's Pkede, features a noble Paris beggar 
who, after rescuing a lady, contemptuously refuses the money she 
offers him, because she has previously indicted him for being a thief.' 
These films of high moral standards competed with pornographic 
ones which, of course, never lived up to their exciting promises. Be- 
tween 1906 and 1908, the films increased in length, and spoken com- 
ments gave way to printed titles. Owing to such improvements, these 
years were marked by the opening of many new theaters and the 
advent of German film distributors.* 

^ 01imsky» FUmwirUchaft, p. 20; Kalbus, Deutsche PilTakunat, 1, 11. 
^Olimsky, Filmwirtsohaft, p. 14; Kalbus, Deutsche FilmkunBt, I, 12. 
3 Shown by Hans Richter in a New York lecture. May 25, 1948. 
■*Messter, Mein Weg, p. 98; Boehmer and Reitz, Film in Wirtachaft und Recht, 
pp. 4-6 




The outstanding figure among the few native producers of the 
period was Oskar Messter, who makes no effort in his autobiography 
to belittle any of his merits.^ Messter began working in a modest 
apartment studio in the Berlin Friedrichstrasse, later the headquar- 
ters for numerous film-makers of low caliber and questionable busi- 
ness ethics. He possessed the eagerness of a pioneer to experiment, to 
try every innovation. At a time in which close-ups were still unusual, 
one of his early comedies intermingled with long shots of several 
female cyclists a close shot of their fidgeting legs — a procedure 
anticipating a favorite German camera usage.^ Messter also pro- 
moted the fashion of "sound films." Originating in France and 
America, this species flourished in Germany about 1908—1909. A cos- 
tumed tenor standing before a painted canvas pretended to sing, 
endeavoring to synchronize the movements of his mouth with a hidden 
gramophone. In addition to grand-opera scenes, folk-songs and 
musical parodies, one could listen to Otto Reutter, the incomparable 
cabaret artist, whose songs cloaked bitter criticism of life with good- 
natured humor. Sound films of this kind had already been exhibited 
during the Paris World's Fair of 1900, but proved too expensive and 
intricate to be continued."^ The particular interest they met with in 
Germany doubtless resulted from the traditional German concern 
with all forms of musical expression. 

During that whole era the film had the traits of a young street 
arab ; it was an uneducated creature running wild among the lower 
strata of society. Many people enticed by the movies had never 
attended artistic spectacles before; others were lured from the stage 
to the screen. About 1910 the theater of the provincial town of 
Hildesheim reported having lost 50 per cent of those customers who 
previously frequented the three cheapest categories of seats. Variety 
and circus shows complained of similar setbacks.^ An attraction for 
young workers, salesgirls, the unemployed, loafers and social non- 
descripts, the movie theaters were in rather bad repute. They af- 
forded a shelter to the poor, a refuge to sweethearts. Sometimes a 
crazy intellectual would stray into one. 

In France, the freedom of the film from cultural ties and intel- 
lectual prejudices enabled artists like Georges Melius or ifimile Cohl 

* Of. Messter, Mein Weff. 

« This scene is included in S. Licot's cross-section Aim, Qvarante Ana de OinStna, 
See also Messter, Mein Weg, p. 98. 

Ackerknecht, XAchtspielfragen, p. 151; Zaddach, Der literarUohe Film, pp. 14-16; 
Messter, Mein Weg, pp. 64-66, TS-M. 

sZimmereimer, FiVrnzentur, pp. 27-28; see also Altenloh, Boxiologie dea Kinoi, 



to prosper, but in Germany it seems not to have stirred the cinematic 
sense. Then, after 1910, in response to a movement which started in 
France, that freedom vanished. On November 17, 1908, the newly 
founded French fihn company Film d'Art released The Assassina- 
tion OF THE Due DE GuisE, an ambitious creation acted by members 
of the Com^die Fran9aise and accompanied by a musical score of 
Saint-Saens.^ This was the first of innumerable films which were to be 
mistaken for works of art because, spurning cinematic potentialities, 
they imitated the stage and adapted celebrated literary productions. 
Italy followed the French example, and the American screen tempo- 
rarily favored famous players in famous plays. 

The same thing happened in Germany. The upper world of stage 
directors, actors and writers began to show interest in the cinema 
after having despised it as an inferior mediimi. Their change of mind 
must be traced, in part, to the missionary zeal of Paul Davidson, the 
great promoter of the early German film, who, under the spell of 
the new Danish film actress Asta Nielsen, firmly proclaimed the 
cinema's artistic future. He headed the Projektion-A. G. Union, 
which steadily extended its ownership of movie theaters and turned 
to producing films of its own even before the war. To boost the 
movies, Davidson made contact with Max Reinbardt, the leading 
Berlin stage producer, and, about 1911/1912, participated in the 
founding of a kind of guild which was to regulate the relations be- 
tween film-makers and playwrights.^^ Of course, the prospect of 
tangible advantages did much to soften the resistance of many 
formerly hostile to films. Young actors from the Berlin stages were 
not unwilling to make a little extra money in the studios. Stage 
directors for their part profited by reducing the wages of these 
actors; moreover, they realized, not without satisfaction, that the 
theaters could now appeal to moviegoers anxious to adore their screen 
favorites in the flesh.^^ 

Admission of fihns into the realm of the officially sanctioned arts 
went hand in hand with the evolution of a native film industry. Dur- 
ing the last four prewar years, big film studios were constructed at 
Tempelhof and Neubabelsberg in the immediate neighborhood of 
Berlin, on grounds reserved to this day for the production of films 
— studios whose removable glass walls made possible the combination 

» Bard^che and BrasiUach, JSUtory of Motion Pictures, p. 42. 

*o Boehmer and Reitz, PUm in Wirtachaft und Reckt, p. 6; Davidsohn, "Wie das 
dcutsche Lichtspleltheater entstand," Lioht BUd Bithne, pp. 7-8; Diaz, Asta Nielsen, 
pp. 84-^5; Zaddach, Der literariache FUm, p. 28. 
Kalbus, Deutsche Filmhunst, 1, 18. 



of indoor and outdoor work favored at the time.*^ All looked bright 
and promising. Max Reinhardt himself was engaged in directing 
motion pictures. Hugo von Hofmannsthal was writing a "dream- 
play," Das premde Madchen (The Strange Gmi., 1913),^^ among 
the first of the fantastic films soon to become a German institution. 
From Arthur Schnitzler's comedy Liehelei to Richard Voss's obsolete 
middle-class novel Eva^ few reputable works were being overlooked by 
the screen. 

But this elevation of the film to literary high life proved, as might 
be expected, a blunder. Traditionally attached to the ways of the 
theater, the stage people were incapable of grasping the different 
laws of the new cinematic medium. Their behavior towards the movies 
was condescending. They welcomed them as a means of emphasizing 
the art of the actor, and moreover, as a wonderful opportunity to 
popularize theatrical productions. What the screen meant to them 
was simply the stage again. In the siunmer of 1910, Reinhardt's 
pantomime Svmurun was made into a film which bored its audience 
by wasting 2,000 meters on an exact duplication of the original 
stage performance. 

The so-called film reformers (Kmoreformhewegimg), including 
teacher associations, Catholic societies and all kinds of Vereine in 
pursuit of cultural aims, exerted an analogous influence. From 1912 
on, these pressure groups set out to justify their existence by oppos- 
ing the immorality of the fihns and denouncing them as a source of 
corruption of the youth. The resemblance to the American Puritan 
leagues is obvious. However, the German movement differed from 
all similar movements abroad in that it drew much delicious indigna- 
tion from the carelessness with which most films treated literary 
masterpieces." It happened, in 1910, that a Don Carlos film sup- 
pressed two main characters of Schiller's drama. In the eyes of the 
film reformers this was a crime. For any ^^literary" film had but one 
duty: to preserve the full integrity of its model. Was it for the sake 
of art that these spokesmen of tiie educated middle class shielded 
Schiller so ardently? Rather, classic literature enjoyed an awe- 
inspiring authority, and in defending it they yielded to the truly 

»a**25 Jahre Filmatelier," fS5 Jahre Kimmatogra/phf p. 66. 

In all cases where a CJerman film has been shown in the United States under an 
English title accepted by the trade, this title will be used in the text. If no American 
trade title exists, the translation appearing in parentheses is the author's own. The 
date given with a title always refers to the year of release. 

For a discussion of the arty and literary-minded film and the film reformers, see 
Zaddach, Der literarisohe Film, pp. 17, 22-29, 8(ka8. 



German desire to serve the established powers. Harassing the motion 
picture industry with their cultured demands, the film reformers sur- 
vived the war and continued to stigmatize what they considered trash 
on the screen through numerous pamphlets, invariably couched in 
metaphysical terms. 

Fortunately, all efforts to ennoble the film by dragging it into the 
sphere of stage and literature aroused the scepticism of film experts 
and encountered the salutary indifference of the masses. The film 
version of Swmwnin was reproached by its audiences for a complete 
lack of details and close-ups offered by even the average film. Dis- 
couraged by such reactions, Ernst von Wolzogen, a German poet, 
desisted from contributing further film scenarios on the grounds that 
the crowd always favors the banal. People preferred to these elevated 
screen adaptations the current output of historical films and mdo- 
dramas which dealt in a primitive way with popular themes. Of most 
films of the time only the titles and perhaps a few stills remain to us ; 
but it can be presumed that they somewhat resembled the exercises 
of a student who has not yet learned to express himself with facility. 

In 1913 the detective film emerged, a genre obviously inspired by 
the French cinS-romanSi which were adopted in America during the 
war.^° The first German master-detective to be serialized was Ernst 
Reicher as eagle-eyed Stuart Webbs, who, with the peaked cap and 
the inevitable shag pipe, had all the trademarks of Sherlock Holmes. 
Since he enjoyed an immense popularity, he was soon followed by 
competitors vainly trying to outdo him. They called themselves "Joe 
Deebs" or "Harry Higgs," were on excellent terms with Scotland 
Yard, and lived up to their English names by looking exactly like 
tailor-made gentlemen.^^ 

It is noteworthy that, while the French and Americans succeeded 
in creating a national counterpart of Conan Doyle's archetype, the 
Germans always conceived of the great detective as an English char- 
acter. This may be explained by the dependence of the classic detec- 
tive upon liberal democracy. He, the single-handed sleuth who makes 
reason destroy the spider webs of irrational powers and decency 
triumph over dark instincts, is the predestined hero of a civilized 
world which believes in the blessings of enlightenment and individual 
freedom. It is not accidental that the sovereign detective is disap- 

" Jahier, "42 Ans de Cln&na," Le B6le inteUectuel du Oin4ma, p. 26. 
^« Kalbus, Deutsche Fihnhunst, It 89. 


pearing today in films and novels alike, giving way to the tough 
"private investigator'* : the potentialities of liberalism seem, tempo- 
rarily, exhausted. Since the Germans had never developed a demo- 
cratic regime, they were not in a position to engender a native version 
of Sherlock Holmes. Their deep-founded susceptibilities to life 
abroad enabled them, nevertheless, to enjoy the lovely myth of the 
English detective. 

Despite the evolution of domestic production, foreign fihns con- 
tinued to flood German movie theaters, which had considerably in- 
creased in number since 1912.^^ A new Leipzig Lichtspiel palace was 
inaugurated with Quo Vabis, an Italian pageant that actually re- 
ceived press reviews as if it were a real stage play.^* Towards the end 
of the prewar period, the Danish films gained more and more influ- 
ence. Greatly indebted to Asta Nielsen, they appealed to German 
audiences by focusing upon psychological conflicts unfolded in 
natural settings. The success of the American Westerns was par- 
ticularly sweeping. Broncho Bill and Tom Mix conquered the hearts 
of the young German generation, which had devoured, volume after 
volume, the novels of Karl May — ^novels set in an imaginary Far 
West and full of fabulous events involving Indian tribes, covered 
wagons, traders, hunters, tramps and adventurers. To staid and 
settled adults the spell this shoddy stuff exerted on boys in the early 
teens was inexplicable ; but youngsters would shed tears of delight 
when the noble Indian chief Winnetou, having become a Christian, 
died in the arms of his friend Old Shatterhand, a righter of wrongs, 
and a German, of course. By their simple manner and untroubled 
outlook, their ceaseless activity and heroic exploits, the American 
screen cowboys also attracted many German intellectuals suffering 
from lack of purpose. Because they were mentally tossed about, the 
intelligentsia welcomed the simplifications of the Westerns, the life 
in which the hero has but one course to fallow. In the same fashion, at 
the outbreak of the war, numerous students enthusiastically rushed 
to volunteer in the army. They were drawn not so much by patriotism 
as by a passionate desire to escape from vain freedom into a life 
under compelling pressure. They wished to serve. 

Besides the Westerns, short comedies featuring Max Linder, 
Fatty and Tontolini were the vogue of those years. All strata of Ger- 

Jason, **Zahlen seben uns an," SS Jahre Kinematogrojolk, p. 61. 
18 Olimsky, Fihnmrtsohaft, p. 21. 



man moviegoers participated in the gay laughter they aroused. The 
Germans liked that sort of visual fim. It is all the more surprising, 
therefore, that they themselves were incapable of producing a popu- 
lar film comedian. As early as 1921, a German writer stated plainly 
that the Germans were short of comical film ideas — ^a domain which, 
he admitted, the French and after them the Americans had learned 
to explore with mastery .^^ 

This strange deficiency may be connected with the character of 
the old screen buffooneries. Whether or not they indulged in slap- 
stick, they invariably exposed their hero to all kinds of pitfalls and 
dangers, so that he depended upon one lucky accident after another 
to escape. When he crossed a railroad, a train would approach, 
threatening to crush him, and only in the very last moment would 
his life be spared as the train switched over to a track hitherto in- 
visible. The hero — ^a sweet, rather helpless individual who would never 
harm anyone — ^pulled through in a world governed by chance. The 
comedy adjusted itself in this way to the specific conditions of the 
screen ; for more than any other mediima the film is able to point up 
the contingencies of life. It was a truly cinematic type of comedy. 
Had it a moral to impart.? It sided with the little pigs against the big 
bad wolf by making luck the natural ally of its heroes. This, inciden- 
tally, was comforting to the poor. That such comedy founded on 
chance and a naive desire for happiness should prove inaccessible to 
the Germans arises from their traditional ideology, which tends to 
discredit the notion of luck in favor of that of fate. The Germans 
have developed a native humor that holds wit and irony in con- 
tempt and has no place for happy-go-lucky figures. Theirs is an emo- 
tional hxmior which tries to reconcile mankind to its tragic plight and 
to make one not only laugh at the oddities of life but also realize 
through that laughter how fateful it is. Such dispositions were of 
course incompatible with the attitudes underlying the performances 
of a Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd. There exists, moreover, a close 
interrelationship between intellectual habits and bodily movements. 
The German actors may have felt that, owing to their credos, they 
were hardly the type for gags and gestures similar to those of the 
American film comedians. 

The war began. Not only part of the German youth, but also the 
clan of the film reformers firmly believed that it would imbue their 
MSllliauscn, "Aufstieg des FilDOS,'* UforBmUr, 


drab life with a new and marvdous meaning. Hermann Hafker's 
preface to his book on the cinema and the cultured classes is iUum- 
inating in this respect. Dated September 1914, it extols the war as a 
sure means of realizing the noble designs of the film reformers, and 
finally turns into one of those bellicose dithyrambs not at all unusual 
then. "May it [i.e., the war] purify our public life as a thunderstorm 
does the atmosphere. May it allow us to live again, and make us 
eager to risk our lives in deeds such as this hour commands. Peace 
had become insupportable.'' Hafker and his like were in a frenzy. 

Peace, to be sure, had seen the German fihn industry caught in a 
crisis. The domestic output was far too insignificant to compete with 
the foreign films crowding the movie theaters, which had seemed to 
increase for the sole purpose of absorbing the influx from abroad. 
Products of Path^ Freres and Gaumont inundated the German 
market. The Danish Nordisk went to the limit to ruin Davidson's 
Projektion-A.G. Union.^^ 

This embarrassing situation was reversed by the war, which 
abruptly freed the native industry from the burden of foreign com- 
petition. After the frontiers had been shut, Germany belonged to the 
German film producers, faced now with the task of satisfying on their 
own all internal demands. These were immense. In addition to 
the regular movie theaters numerous mihtary ones spreading behind 
the front lines demanded a permanent supply of fresh films. It was 
lucky for the film-makers that just before the war large and modern 
studio plants had been completed. A boom set in, and new fihn com- 
panies cropped up with incredible speed. According to a seemingly 
reliable survey, the number of these companies rose from 28 in 1913 
to 245 in 1919. Movie theaters also flourished and grew more and 
more luxurious. It was a period of abundant dividends. The middle 
class began to pay some attention to the cinema.^^ 

Thus the German film was offered a unique chance: it became 
autonomous ; it no longer needed to emulate foreign products to sus- 
tain its market value. One would think that under such auspicious 
circumstances Germany might have succeeded in creating a cinema 
of her own, of truly national character. Other countries did. During 

*o HMker, I>er Kino und die OebUdeten, p. 4. 

a^Boehmer and Eeitz, Film in Wirtschaft und Recht, p. 5; Kalbus. Deutsche 
PUmkmst, I, 28. 

32 Boehmer and Reitz, Film in Wirtschaft und Becht, pp. 6-6} Olimsky, Fihnwirt- 
sckaft, pp. 28-24; Jason, "Zahlen sehen uns an," i8S Jahra KinematOffraphj p. 67; 
Bardfeche and BrasiUach, History of Motion Pictures, pp. 165-86. 



those war years, D. W. Griffith, Chaplin and Cecil B. De Mille devel- 
oped the American fikn, and the Swedish industry took shape. 

But the German evolution was not similar. From October 1914 
on, Messter substituted for the prewar newsreels of Path^ Fr^res, 
Gaumont and Jfeclair weekly film reports which pictured diverse war 
events with the help of documentary shots. Disseminated among the 
neutrals as well as in the fatherland, these illustrated bulletins were 
supplemented by staged propaganda films in which extras put into 
British uniforms surrendered to valiant German troops. The govern- 
ment encouraged efforts of that kind as a means to make people 
"stick to it." Later in the course of the war the High Command 
ordered selected cameramen to participate in military actions. The 
design was to obtain impressive pictorial material which would also 
serve as an historic record. One reel which was taken from a sub- 
marine, and closely detailed the sinking of Allied ships, gained a 
wide reputation. But these cinematic activities were by no means 
peculiar to the Germans. The French had nearly the same ideas 
about the utility of war documentaries, and realized them with no less 

In the domain of the fictional film, scores of patriotic dramas, 
melodramas, comedies and farces spread over the screen — ^rubbish 
filled to the brim with war brides, waving flags, officers, privates, ele- 
vated sentiments and barracks himior. When, about the middle of 
1915, it became obvious that the gay war of movement had changed 
into a stationary war of uncertain issues, the moviegoers apparently 
refused to swallow the patriotic sweets any longer. A marked shift in 
entertainiment themes occurred. The many pictures exploiting 
patriotism were superseded by films which concentrated upon peace- 
time subjects. By resimiing part of their normal interests, people 
adjusted themselves to the stabilized war. 

A multitude of comedies emerged, transferring to the screen 
popular Berlin stage comedians in proved theatrical plays. They laid 
hold of such stereotyped figures as the Prussian lieutenant or the 
adolescent girl, and, in the main, indulged in wanton sex fun. Ernst 
Lubitsch started his amazing career in the field of these slight com- 
edies. Not content with minor stage roles in classic dramas, he, the 
Reinhardt actor, found an outlet for his nimble wit and ingenuity by 

3» Rohde, "Grerman Propaganda MovieSj" American Ginematographer, Jan. 1948, 
p. 10; Ackerknecht, Liohtspielfraffen, pp. 21-22; Messter, Mem Weg, pp. 128-80. 
a* Bard^che and BrasiUach, History of Motion Pictures, p. 98. 



playing the comic in screen farces. One of them features him as a 
Jewish apprentice in a Berlin shop who, always on the verge of being 
fired, ends as the son-in-law of his boss. He soon took pleasure in 
directing, himself, such one-reel comedies. Although, under the Nazis, 
Kalbus denounced Lubitsch for displaying "a pertness entirely alien 
from our true being," the contemporary German audience did not 
feel at all scandalized, but enjoyed the actor and his films whole- 

The war failed to provoke vital innovations, nor did it engender 
additional film types, with the exception, perhaps, of a group of 
cheap serials promoting favorite actors such as Fern Andra and 
Erna Morena.^^The German fihn-makers continued to explore mines 
opened by prewar activities, and, at best, played new variations on 
old tunes. Occasionally, a sure instinct seized upon a story that later 
would be picked up again and again. Sudermann's outmoded novels 
and theatrically effective plays were first translated to the screen 
during that period.^^ They were full of dramatic suspense, good it>les 
and a bourgeois outlook, abounded in realistic details, and rendered 
the melancholy East Prussian landscape painstakingly — qualities 
which made them attractive to fihn producers for many years to 

Only towards the end of the war did the events take place that 
caused the birth of the German film proper, but that they proved so 
effective was due to the whole development prior to their interven- 
tion. Although this development lacked strong impulses and striking 
results, it nevertheless established traditions that facilitated the final 

The decisive contribution of the war and prewar years was the 
preparation of a generation of actors, cameramen, directors and 
technicians for the tasks of the future. Some of these old-timers con- 
tinued under Hitler ; among them was Carl Froelich, a pre-eminent 
German director who did not mind occupying a key post in the Nazi 
fihn industry. He entered one of the first Messter studios as an elec- 
trician, then cranked a camera, and, as early as 1911 or 1912, began 
directing films.^® Many others gained practice by making primitive 

Kalbus, J>eut8ch6 Filmkimat, I, ft*. Kalbus deals extensivdy with the GermajQ 
war output; cf. pp. 18-19, 82-87. 
a«76iU, pp. 25-26. 

27 Zaddach, J)er liUrantohe PUm, p. 84. 
»8 Messter, Mein Wsg, pp. 57, 99 ff. 



films long since passed into oblivion. They learned by their own 
mistakes. Emil Jannings — ^he, too, subsequently prominent in Nazi 
Germany — ^writes about his debut as a film actor during the war: 
"When I watched myself for the first time on the screen, the impres- 
sion was crushing. Did I really look as stupid as that.f*" ^® 

Jannings was only one of numerous actors who underwent their 
basic training in the course of the archaic period. They all were later 
to build up a sort of repertory company. Indeed, the cast of every 
film to be released in Germany would include members of this 
"guild," which, in spite of continually acquiring new recruits, kept 
its old guard intact. While Hollywood cultivates stars rather than 
ensemble effects, and the Russian cinema often uses laymen as film 
figures, the German film i3 founded upon a permanent body of 
players — ^highly disciplined professionals who adjust themselves to 
all changes in style and fashion.^® 

To meet actors familiar to contemporary moviegoers in a past 
that has become history is an uncanny experience : what was once our 
life is now stored away, and we have somehow unknowingly moved on. 
Not the predecessors of Werner Krauss or Albert Bassermann, but 
they themselves passed across the screen during the first World War 
— ^figures irrevocably separated from the present day. One of their 
companions was Henny Porten who — she was a rare exception — 
began her film career without any previous stage experience. From 
about 1910 on, this ingenious blonde, much praised as the ideal type 
of German woman, maintained herself in the favor of the public, 
playing with equal ease comic and tragic parts, vulvar farmer's wives 
and sensitive ladies.*^ Another figure of those early days was Harry 
Piel, called the German Douglas Fairbanks. He appeared in the 
middle of the war as the hero of Unteh. heisser Sonne (Under a 
Hot StJN), a film in which he forced several lions (from Hamburg's 
Hagenbeck Zoo) to yield to his spell.^^ From the very beginning Piel 
seems to have been true to the type he was to impersonate in the 
future: that of a chivalrous daredevil who excels in defeating re- 

a» Jannings, **Mein VlTerdegang," Ufctr-Magazin, Oct. 1-7, 1926. 

C. A. Lejeune, the English film writer, comments on this pQint in an interesting 
way. The German repertory company, she says, "is right for the mood of Grermany, and 
will always be the type for any segment of cinema that works from the psychological- 
fantastic basis, any production that builds up a whole from the materials of the studio 
rather than cleaving out a meaning from the raw materials of life." — ^Lejeune, Cinema^ 
p. 142. 

31 Kalbus, Deutsche Fihnkunst, I, 19-21. 
83 Ibid., pp. 89-90. 


sourceful criminals and rescuing innocent maidens. When he showed 
up in evening attire, he epitomized an inunature girPs daydream of a 
perfect gentleman, and the boyish charm he radiated was as sweet as 
the colored sugar-sticks which, in European fairs, are the delight of 
children and blase aesthetes. His fihns were in the black-and-white 
style of the dime noveb rather than the shadings of psychological 
conflicts; they superseded tragic issues with happy endings, and, 
on the whole, presented a German variation of the Anglo-American 
thriller. This bright and pleasing trash stands isolated against a 
mass of somber "artistic" products. 

The most fascinating personality of the primitive era was the 
Danish actress Asta Nielsen. In 1910, after years of stage triumphs, 
she made her screen debut in Afgritnden (Abyss), a Copenhagen 
Nordist film directed by her husband. Urban Gad. This fihn, distin- 
guished by a length which was then unusual, has left no trace other 
than an enthusiastic comment on some footage devoted to her panto- 
mime — a sign that she must have been predestined for the cinema. 
Convinced of her future, Paul Davidson offered Asta Nielsen fabu- 
lous salaries and working conditions if she would agree to put her 
gifts at the disposal of his film company. Union. She agreed, settled 
in Berlin, and there, about 1911, began to appear in films which 
during the war stirred French as well as German soldiers to adorn 
their dugouts with her photograph. What they obscurely felt, Guil- 
laume Apollinaire expressed in a torrent of words: "She is aU! She 
is the vision of the drinker and the dream of the lonely man. She 
laughs like a girl completely happy, and her eye knows of things so 
tender and shy that one could not speak of them," and so forth. 

This exceptional artist enriched the German film in more than 
one way. At a time when most actors still clung to stage devices, Asta 
Nielsen developed an innate fihn sense which could not but inspire 
her partners. Her knowledge of how to produce a definite psycho- 
logical eiJect by means of an adequately chosen dress was as pro- 
found as her insight into the cinematic impact of details. Diaz, her 
early biographer, wondered at the confusion of futile objects piled 
up in her home — ^a collection including semielegant articles of men's 
clothing, optical instruments, little walking sticks, distorted hats and 
impossible wrappers. "What I am playing," she told him, "I am 
throughout. And I like to form so detailed an idea of my characters 
that I know them down to the last externals, which consist precisely 
of all these many bagatelles. Such bagatelles are more revealing than 



obtrusive exaggerations. I really build up my characters — and here 
you find the most decorative, most effective elements of which to com- 
pose the facade." The German screen world would be incomplete 
without the characters Asta Nielsen created during the silent era,*^ 

s»Diaz, Asta Nielsen, p. 61. For the Apollinaire quotation, see Diaz, p. 7. See 
also Mdllhausen, "Aufstieg des Films," Ufa-Bimterj Kalbos, Deutsche Filmkunst, I, 


From the junk heap of archaic fihns four call for special attention 
because they anticipated important postwar subjects. Three of them 
mirrored fantastic worlds full of chimerical creatures; this was in 
harmony with the progressive German film theories of the time. 
Many a contemporary writer encouraged the film-makers to substan- 
tiate the specific possibilities of their medium by rendering not so 
much existing objects as products of pure imagination. Hermann 
Hafker — ^he who praised war as the salvation from the evils of peace 
— ^advised film poets to interweave real and unreal elements. The 
war enthusiast fond of fairy tales : it was a truly German phenom- 
enon. Similarly, Georg Lukacs, who was later to change from 
a bourgeois aesthete into a Marxist thinker (going to the extreme 
in both cases), wrote in 1913 that he considered the film tantamount 
to the fairy tale and the dream.^ 

The first to put in practice the doctrines of his contemporaries 
was Paul Wegener, a Reinhardt actor whose Mongolian face told of 
the strange visions that haunted him.^ His desire to represent them 
on the screen resulted in fihns that were true innovations. They swept 
into regions ruled by .other laws than ours; they rendered events 
which only the film could make seem real. Wegener was animated by 
the same cinematic passion which had inspired Georges M^li^s to make 
such films as A Tbip to the Moon and The Merry Frolics op 
Satan. But while the amiable French artist enchanted all childlike 
souls with his bright conjuring tricks, the German actor proved 
a sinister magician calling up the demoniac forces of human 

Wegener started, as early as 1913, with Der Student von Prag 
(The Student ov Prague), a pioneer work also in that it inaugu- 
rated the exploitation of old legends. Hanns Heinz Ewers who wrote 

* Cf. Pordes, Da* Lichtspiel, p. 10. 

* Mack, Wie komme ich zum FUmf, p. 114. 




the script, m collaboration with Wegener himself, possessed a real 
film sense. He had the good fortune to be a bad author with an 
imagination reveling in gross sensation and sex — ^a natural ally for 
the Nazis, for whom he was to write, in 1933, the official screen play 
on Horst Wessel. But precisely this kind of imagination forced him 
into spheres rich in tangible events and sensual experiences — ^always 
good screen material. 

Borrowing from E. T. A. Hoffmann, the Faust legend and Foe's 
story ^William Wilson," Ewers presents us with the poor student 
Baldwin signing a compact with the queer sorcerer Scapinelli. This 
incarnation of Satan promises Baldwin an advantageous marriage 
and inexhaustible wealth on condition that he, Scapinelli, be given 
the student's mirror reflection. It was a brilliant film idea to have the 
reflection, lured out of the looking-glass by the wizard, transform 
itself into an independent person. According to the terms of the com- 
pact, Baldwin meets a beautiful countess and f aUs in love with her ; 
whereupon her official suitor challenges him. A duel is inevitable. At 
the demand of the countess' father, the student, who is reputed to be 
an excellent fencer, agrees to spare the life of his adversary. But as 
Baldwin hurries to the rendezvous — Shaving been prevented by Scap- 
inelli's mfichinations from reaching it at the appointed time — ^he 
learns that his ghostly counterpart has supplanted him and slain the 
unhappy suitor. Baldwin is disgraced. He tries to convince the 
countess of his innocence ; but all attempts at rehabilitating himself 
are ruthlessly frustrated by his double. Obviously the double is noth- 
ing more than a projection of one of the two souls inhabiting Bald- 
win. The greedy self that makes him succumb to devilish tempta- 
tions assumes a life of its own and sets out to destroy the other and 
better self he has betrayed. At the end the desperate student shoots 
his reflection in the same attic from which he once emerged. The shot 
fired at the apparition kiUs only himself. Then Scapinelli enters 
and tears the compact; its pieces drop down and cover Baldwin's 

The cinematic novelty of The Student of Frague seems to 
have stirred contemporaries. One critic compared it with paintings of 
Ribera — ^a praise that was to be crudely reversed by a reviewer who, 
on the occasion of a revival in 1926, called the film "incredibly naive 

^Cf. Ewers, Der SPudent uon Praff; Kalbus, Deutsche FUmkun»t, I, 17; Wesse, 
Orossmacht Film, p. 125 ff. For Stellan Rye, the director of the film, see CobSken, 
**Als ich noch rund um die Friedrichstrasse ging . , " IBS Jdhrs KiMmatograph, p. }8. 



and often ridiculous." * The film belongs among the many lost ones. 
Much as this may be regretted, its significance undoubtedly rests less 
on the camera-work than on the story proper, which despite all its 
Anglo-American affiliations attracted the Germans as irresistibly as 
if it had been exclusively drawn from native sources. 

The Stxident op Prague introduced to the screen a theme that 
was to become an obsession of the Grerman cinema : a deep and fear- 
ful concern with the foundations of the self. By separating Baldwin 
from his reflection and making both face each other, Wegener's 
film symbolizes a specific kind of split personality. Instead of being 
unaware of his own duality, the panic-stricken Baldwin realizes that 
he is in the grip of an antagonist who is nobody but himself. This 
was an old motif surrounded by a halo of meanings, but was it 
not also a dreamlike transcription of what the German middle 
class actually experienced in its relation to the feudal caste run- 
ning Germany? The opposition of the bourgeoisie to the Imperial 
regime grew, at times, sufficiently acute to overshadow its hostility 
towards the workers, who shared the general indignation over the 
semi-absolutist institutions in Prussia, the encroachments of the mili- 
tary set and the foolish doings of the Kaiser. The current phrase, 
"the two Germanys," applied in particular to the differences between 
the ruling set and the middle class — differences deeply resented by 
the latter. Yet notwithstanding this dualism the Imperial govern- 
ment stood for economic and political principles which even the 
liberals were not unwilling to accept. Face to face with their con- 
science they had to admit that they identified themselves with the 
very ruling class they opposed. They represented both Germanys. 

The determination with which The Student of Prague treats 
its horror story as a case of individual psychology is also revealing. 
The whole external action is merely a mirage reflecting the events 
in Baldwin's soul. Baldwin is not part of the world; the world is 
contained in Baldwin. To depict him thus, nothing was more appro- 
priate than to locate the play in a fantastic sphere where the de- 
mands of social reality did not have to be considered. This explains, 
in part, the predilection of the German postwar cinema for imagi- 
nary subjects. The cosmic significance attributed to Baldwin's in- 
terior hfe reflects the profound aversion of all German middle-class 

Seeber, "Szenen aus dem Film mefnes Lebens," Lioht BUd BUhiM, p. 16. The 
quotation comes from the Hanover newspaper, VolksvfiU^, Winter 1926-1927 (clipping 
in the possession of Mr. Henrik Galeen, New York). 



strata to relating their mental dilemma to their ambiguous social 
plight. They shrank from tracing ideas or psychological experiences 
to economic and social causes after the fashion of the socialists. 
Founded upon the idealist concept of the autonomous individual, 
their attitude was in perfect harmony with their practical interests. 
Since any concession to the materialist thinking of the socialists 
might have undermined these interests, they instinctively avoided 
one by exaggerating the autonomy of the individual. This led them 
to conceive outer duplicities as inner dualities, but they preferred 
such psychological complications to issues involving a loss of their 
privileges. Nevertheless they seem to have sometimes doubted whether 
their retreat into the depth of the soul would save them from a 
catastrophic breakthrough of social reality. Baldwin's ultimate sui- 
cide mirrors their premonitions. 

Wegener produced his second film, Der Golem (The Golem; 
like his first film, remade after the war), with the assistance of 
Henrik Galeen, an imaginative artist who wrote the script, directed 
the film and also played a role in it. Released at the beginning of 
1915, the film exemplified anew Wegener's genuine passion for 
drawing screen effects from fantastic themes. This time the legend 
behind the film was the medieval Jewish one in which Rabbi Loew 
of Prague infuses life into a Golem — ^a statue he had made of clay — 
by putting a magic sign on its heart. In the fihn, workmen digging 
a well in an old synagogue excavate the statue and take it to an 
antique dealer. The dealer subsequently comes upon a report on 
Rabbi Loew's procedures in some cabalistic volume, and, following 
its directions, he achieves the miraculous metamorphosis. Now the 
story turns to modem psychology. While the Golem functions as the 
dealer's servant, a second transformation occurs : he, the dull robot, 
falls in love with the daughter of his master and thus changes into 
a human being with a soul of his own. The frightened girl tries to 
escape her eerie suitor, whereupon he realizes his terrible isolation. 
This rouses him to fury, A raging monster, he pursues the daughter, 
blindly destroying all obstacles in his way. At the end he perishes by 
falling from a tower; his corpse is the shattered statue of clay.'' 

The motifs of The Golem reappear in Homunculus (x916), 
a thriller in six parts which enjoyed an enormous success during 

5 Based on information offered by Mr. Henrik Galeen. For Wegener's other films, 
see Kalbus, Deutsche FUmkunsU I* 68, and Zaddach, Der lUerarisehe FUm, p. 86. 


the war. Its title role was taken by the popular Danish actor Olaf 
r^nss, whose romantic attire in the film reportedly influenced 
the fashions of elegant BerHn. Since this serial, an early forerunner 
of the Frankenstein fikns, sprang from quite other sources than 
Wegener's screen legend The Golem, the analogies between the 
two movies are particularly striking. 

Like the Golem, Homunculus is an artificial product. Generated 
in a retort by the famous scientist Professor Hansen and his 
assistant, Eodin, he develops into a man of sparkling intellect and 
indomitable will. However, no sooner does he learn the secret of his 
birth than he behaves as the Golem had. Homunculus is a Golem 
figure in the sphere of consciousness. He feels like an outcast and 
yearns for love to rid himself of his fatal loneHness. This overpower- 
ing desire drives him to far countries where he expects his secret to 
be safe, but the truth leaks out, and whatever he does to conquer 
their hearts, people recoil in horror, saying: "It is Homunculus, 
the man without a soul, the devil's servant— a monster!" When 
they happen to kill his dog, even Rodin, his sole friend, cannot keep 
the deluded Homunculus from despising all mankind. In elaborating 
his further career, the fihn foreshadows Hitler surprisingly. Ob- 
sessed by hatred, Homunculus makes himself the dictator of a large 
country, and then sets out to take unheard-of revenge for his suffer- 
ings. Disguised as a worker, he incites riots which give him, the 
dictator, an opportunity to crush the masses ruthlessly. Finally he 
precipitates a world war. His monstrous existence is cut short by 
nothing less than a thunderbolt.^ 

Both Homunculus and The Golem portray characters whose 
abnormal traits are presented as the result of abnormal origins. 
But the postulate of such origins is actually a poetic subterfuge 
rationalizing the seemingly inexplicable fact that these heroes are, 
or feel themselves to be, different from their fellow creatures. What 
makes them so different? Homunculus formulates the reason of 
which the Golem is only obscurely aware: "I am cheated out of the 
greatest thing Hfe has to offer!" He hints at his inability to offer 
and receive love — a defect which cannot but give him a strong feel- 
ing of inferiority. At about the time Homunculus appeared, the 
German philosopher Max Scheler lectured in public meetings on the 
causes of the hatred which Germany aroused everywhere in the 

* Cf. F0nss, Kriffj Suit Og FUm, See also note on the film Jn Museum of Modern 
Art Library, clipping flics. 



world. The Germans resembled Homunculus: they themselves had 
an inferiority complex, due to an historic development which proved 
detrimental to the self-confidence of the middle class. Unlike the 
English and the French, the Germans had failed to achieve their 
revolution and, in consequence, never succeeded in establishing a 
truly democratic society. Significantly, German literature offers not 
a single work penetrating an articulated social whole after the 
manner of Balzac or Dickens. No social whole existed in Germany. 
The middle-class strata were in a state of political immaturity 
against which they dreaded to struggle lest they further endanger 
their already insecure social condition. This retrogressive conduct 
provoked a psychological stagnation. Their habit of nurturing the 
intimately associated sensations of inferiority and isolation was as 
juvenile as their inclination to revel in dreams of the future. 

The two artificial screen figures react to frustration in a similar 
way. In the case of Homunculus the impulses prompting him to 
action are quite obvious. He combines lust for destruction with sado- 
masochistic tendencies manifesting themselves in his wavering be- 
tween humble submission and revengeful violence. Rodin's much- 
stressed friendship with him adds a touch of homosexuality that 
rounds out the picture. Modem psychoanalysis is undoubtedly justi- 
fied in interpreting these perversions as means of escape from the 
specific suffering Homunculus undergoes. That both films dwell 
upon such outlets reveals a strong predisposition on the part of the 
Germans to utilize them. 

Having gone berserk, the Golem and Homunculus die deaths as 
remote from the normal as their origins. That of Homunculus is 
strictly supernatural, although he might well have been killed by 
an act of revenge or justice. Isolating him definitely from the rest 
of himianity, his end testifies not only, as did The Student oe 
Peagtje, to the desire of the middle-class German to exalt his in- 
dependence of social exigencies, but also to his pride in this self- 
chosen isolation. Like Baldwin's suicide, the deaths of both monsters 
betray gloomy forebodings. 

The fourth archaic film denoting psychological unrest was Deb 
Andere (The Other), a realistic counterpart of the three fan- 
tasies. Released in 1913, it was based on Paul Lindau's stage play 
of the same title, which dramatized a Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde case, 
drawing it into a stuffy bourgeois atmosphere. The Dr. Jekyll is 


here an enlightened Berlin lawyer, Dr. Hallers, who, during a house 
party, smiles sceptically at an account of a split personality. Noth- 
ing of that kind, he contends, can ever happen to him. But, over- 
worked, Hallers falls from a horse, and, as a consequence, becomes in- 
creasingly often the victim of a compulsory sleep from which he 
emerges as "the other." This other sdtf of his, a rogue, joins a bur- 
glar to break into the lawyer's own flat. The police interfere, arrest- 
ing the burglar. While they examine him, his accomplice falls asleep 
and awakes as Dr. Hallers — ^a Hallers completely unconscious of his 
participation in the crime. He collapses after being forced to identify 
himself as the burglar's partner. The story has a happy ending. 
Hallers regains his health and gets married: the prototype of a 
citizen immune to all psychological disturbances.'^ 

Hallers' adventure intimates that anyone can fall prey to men- 
tal disintegration like Baldwin, and thereby become an outcast like 
Homunculus. Now, Hallers is defined as a middle-class German. 
Owing to his spiritual kinship with the fantastic figures of the other 
films, it seems all the more justifiable to consider them middle-class 
representatives as well. Instead of elaborating on this kinship. The 
Other treats it as a temporary one. Hallers' disintegration appears 
as a curable disease, and far from ending tragically, he returns to 
the cahn haven of normal life. This difference must be laid to a 
change of perspective. While the fantastic films spontaneously re- 
flect certain attitudes symptomatic of collective uneasiness, The 
Other approaches the same attitudes from the standpoint of banal 
middle-class optimism. Guided by this optimism, the story minimizes 
the existing uneasiness, and, in consequence, s3anbolizes it through 
an ephemeral accident which cannot invalidate confidence in ever- 
lasting security. 

^ Publicity program for the film; Kalbus, Deutsche FihahwMt, I, U. The part of 
Dr. Hallers was Albert Bassermaan*s first film role. 


The birth of the German film proper resulted in part from organi- 
zational measures taken by the German authorities. These measures 
must be traced to two observations all informed Germans were in a 
position to make during World War I. First, they became increas- 
ingly aware of the influence anti-German films exerted everywhere 
abroad — bl fact which startled them all the more as they themselves 
had not yet reaHzed the immense suggestive power inherent in this 
medium. Second, they recognized the insufficiency of the domestic 
output. To satisfy the enormous demands, incompetent producers 
had flooded the market with films which proved inferior in quality 
to the bulk of foreign pictures ^ ; moreover, the German film had not 
been animated by the propagandistic zeal that those of the Allies 

Aware of this dangerous situation, the German authorities tried 
to change it by intervening directly in the production of motion 
pictures. In 1916 the government, with the support of associations 
promoting economic, political and cultural objectives, founded 
Deulig (Deutsche Lichtspiel-GesellscJiaft), a film company which, 
through appropriate documentary films, was to publicize the father- 
land at home and abroad.^ At the beginning of 1917, there followed 
the establishment of Bufa {BUd- vmd Filmamt) ; set up purely as a 
government agency, it supplied the troops at the front with movie 
theaters and also assumed the task of providing those documentaries 
which recorded military activities.^ 

This was something, but not enough. When after the entrance 
of the United States into the war American movies swept over the 
world, impressing hatred of Germany with an unrivaled force upon 

^ Boehmer and Reitz, Film in Wirtschaft und BecJit, p. 6. 
'^Ibid., p. 6; Kalbus, Deutsche Filmkv.nst, I, 42. 

3 Kalbus, ibid., p. 44; Bardfeche and Brasillach, History of Motion Pictures, p. 136. 



enemies and neutrals alike, leading German circles agreed that only 
an organization of tremendous proportions would be able to coun- 
teract that campaign. The omnipotent General Ludendorff himself 
took the initiative by recommending a merger of the main fihn com- 
panies, so that their scattered energies might be channeled in the 
national interest. His suggestions were orders. On the strength of a 
resolution adopted in November 1917 by the German High Com- 
mand in close touch with prominent financiers, industrialists and 
shipowners, Messter Fihn, Davidson's Union and the companies con- 
trolled by Nordisk— with backing from a group of banks — emerged 
into a new enterprise: Ufa (Universum Film A, 6?.). Its stock of 
shares amounted to about 25 million marks, of which the Reich took 
over one-third, i.e., 8 million. The official mission of Ufa was to 
advertise Germany according to government directives. These asked 
not only for direct screen propaganda, but also for films charac- 
teristic of German culture and fihns serving the purpose of national 

To attain its aims, Ufa had to raise the level of domestic pro- 
duction, because only fihns of high standards could be expected to 
compete with, let alone outstrip, foreign achievements in effective 
propaganda. Animated by this interest, Ufa assembled a team of 
talented producers, artists and technicians, and organized the studio 
work with that thoroughness upon which the success of any propa- 
gandistic campaign depends. In addition, Ufa had to sell its goods. 
Conscious of this task, it began to infiltrate the occupied Ukraine 
as early as March 1918.** 

In its effort to make the German film a propaganda weapon, 
the government had not reckoned with defeat and revolution. How- 
ever, the events of November left this weapon intact, except, of 
course, for Bufa which, as a residue of the Imperial administration, 
was dissolved at the end of 1918. In the case of Ufa, a transfer 
of property took place: the Keich renounced its partnership, and 
the Deutsche Bank began to acquire most of the shares, including 
those of Nordisk.® Yet this economic shift did not imply a change 
of conduct. Since the new masters of Ufa scarcely differed from the 

*Jdhrhuch der Fihmndmtrie, 1922/8, p. 26, and 1928/25, p. 12; Neumann, Famn 
"Kvnst", pp. 86-87 J Olimsky, Filnuwirtsohaft, p. 24; Vincent, Miitoire de VArt Cini- 
matoffraphiqiM, p. 189. 

'^Jahrbwsh der Fihninduitrie, 1922/8, p. 27; Jacobs, AmBrican Film, p. 808. 

•Neumann, Film-"ZiM»t^\ pp. 8fi-87; Jakrhitch 4^r Filmindwtrie, 1922/8, p. 28, 
and 1928/26, p. 12. 



old ones, they were inclined to perpetuate on the screen the con- 
servative and nationalist pattern set by the former regime. Only a 
slight retouching was desirable: in view of the actual domestic situa- 
tion the films to be promoted would have to make it absolutely clear 
that the Germany of which Ufa dreamed was by no means identical 
with the Germany of the socialists. 

Owing to Ufa's transformation into a private company, its con- 
cern with propaganda was somewhat overshadowed by purely com- 
mercial considerations, especially those of export. But export was 
of propagandistic use, too, and precisely in the interest of economic 
expansion there now remained, as before, the task of perfecting the 
German fihn, so that it might be forced upon a world utterly dis- 
inclined to accept any such contribution. German postwar films en- 
countered a stiff international boycott calculated to last several 
years. To run this blockade, Ufa began immediately after the war 
to secure rights to movie theaters in Switzerland, Scandinavia, Hol- 
land, Spain and other neutral countries. Deulig, which like Ufa 
continued working under the Republic, adopted the same policy by 
building up contacts in the Balkans.''' 

The genesis of Ufa testifies to the authoritarian character of 
Imperial Germany. Although, in wartime, the authorities of all 
belligerent countries assume virtually unlimited powers, the use they 
can make of these powers is not everywhere the same. When the 
German war lords ordered the foundation of Ufa, they initiated 
activities which in democracies result from the pressure of public 
opinion. Manipulated as this opinion may be, it preserves a certain 
spontaneity which no democratic government can afford to disre- 
gard. After America's entrance into the war, anti-German films 
were officially encouraged, but the administration relied on existing 
emotional trends.^ These films expressed what the people actually 
felt. No such consideration for popular sentiments influenced deci- 
sions in favor of a similar screen campaign in Germany. Dictated 
by the necessities of the war, they were based exclusively upon the 
arguments of experts. The German authorities took it for granted 
that public opinion could be molded into any pattern they desired. 
Symptomatically, the Germans were so accustomed to an authoritive 
handling of their affairs that they believed the enemy screen propa- 
ganda also to be the outcome of mere government planning. 

f Kalbus, Deutsche Pilmkunat, I, 42. 
^ Jacobs, American Fihrif p. 258 ff. 


Any framework of organizational measures has to be filled out 
with life. The birth of the German film originated not only in the 
foundation of Ufa, but also in the intellectual excitement surging 
through Germany after the war. AH Germans were then in a mood 
which can best be defined by the word AiLfbruch. In the pregnant 
sense in which it was used at the time, the term meant departure 
from the shattered world of yesterday towards a tomorrow built on 
the grounds of revolutionary conceptions. This explains why, as in 
Russia, expressionist art became popular in Germany during that 
period.^ People suddenly grasped the significance of avant-garde 
paintings and mirrored themselves in visionary dramas announcing 
to a suicidal mankind the gospel of a new age of brotherhood. 

Intoxicated by such prospects, which now seemed within reach, 
intellectuals, students, artists and whoever felt the call set out to 
solve all political, social and economic problems with equal ease. 
They read Capital or quoted Marx without having read him ; they 
believed in international socialism, pacifism, collectivism, aristocratic 
leadership, religious community life or national resurrection, and 
frequently presented a confused mixture of these variegated ideals 
as a brand-new creed. But whatever they advocated seemed to them 
a universal remedy for all evils, particularly in cases in which they 
owed their discovery to inspiration rather than knowledge. When 
in a meeting after the Armistice Max Weber, the great scholar and 
German democrat, criticized the humihating peace conditions which 
the Allies had in store, a sculptor of local reputation shouted: "Ger- 
many should let the other nations crucify her for the sake of the 
world!" The eagerness with which the sculptor jumped into this 
Dostoievsky-like declaration was quite symptomatic. Innumerable 
manifestoes and programs spread all over Germany, and the smallest 
meeting room resounded with the roar of heated discussion. It was 
one of those rare moments in which the soul of a whole people over- 
flows its traditional bounds. 

In the wake of this uproarious Aufhrtich the last prejudices 
against the cinema melted away. Even more important, the cinema 
attracted creative energies which longed for an opportunity to ex- 
press adequately the new hopes and fears of which the era was full. 
Young writers and painters just back from the war approached the 
film studios, animated, like the rest of their generation, by the desire 
to commune with the people. To them the screen was more than a 

^ KurtZj ExprMsioniimus, p. 61. 



medium rich in unexplored possibilities; it was a unique means of 
imparting messages to the masses. Of course, the film producers and 
big executives interfered with such upward flights, engineering all 
kinds of compromises. But even so this postwar effervescence en- 
riched the German screen with singular content and a language of 
its own. 



To call the events of November 1918 a revolution would be abusing 
the term. There was no revolution in Germany. What really took 
place was the breakdown of those in command, resulting from a 
hopeless military situation and a sailors' revolt which gained mo- 
mentum only because people were sick of the war. The Social 
Democrats who took over were so unprepared for a revolution that 
they originally did not even think of establishing a German Repub- 
lic. Its proclamation was improvised.^ These leaders, in whom Lenin 
had placed such hope, proved incapable of removing the big land- 
owners, the industrialists, the generals, the judiciary. Instead of 
creating a people's army, they relied on the antidemocratic Freikorps 
formations to crush Spartacus. On January 15, 1919, Freikorps 
officers murdered Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht — ^a crime 
soon to be followed by the series of notorious Feme-miirdeTS, not one 
of which was ever punished. After the first weeks of the new Re- 
public the old ruling classes began to re-establish themselves. Except 
for a few social reforms not much had been changed.^ 

However, the sweep of intellectual excitement accompanying 
even this abortive revolution reveals the cataclysm Germany en- 
dured after the collapse of the old hierarchy of values and con- 
ventions. For a brief while the German mind had a unique oppor- 
tunity to overcome hereditary habits and reorganize itself com- 
pletely. It enjoyed freedom of choice, and the air was full of doctrines 
trying to captivate it, to lure it into a regrouping of inner attitudes. 

In the domain of public life nothing was settled as yet. People 
suffered from hunger, disorder, unemployment and the first signs of 
inflation. Street fighting became an everyday event. Revolutionary 
solutions seemed now remote, now just around the corner. The ever- 
smoldering class struggle kept fears and hopes aflame. 

1 Schwarzschttd, World in Trance, pp. 51-68. 

a Rosenberg, Oetohichte der Deutachen Bepublik, pp. 48, 71-78. 




Of the two types of films in vogue immediately after the war 
the first elaborated upon matters of sex life with an undeniable 
penchant for pornographic excursions. Films of this kind took 
advantage of the sexual enlightenment officially promoted in prewar 
Germany. In those days eighteen-year-old boys did not leave high 
school for a university without being initiated by some medical man 
into the dangers of venereal diseases and the use of prophylactics. 
During the war, Richard Oswald, a versatile film director with a flair 
for the needs of the market, divined that the hour had come to 
transfer this indoctrination to the screen. He wisely managed to have 
the Society for Combatting Venereal Diseases {Gesellschaft mr 
BeTcdmpfwng der Geschlechtshranhheiten) sponsor his film Es wekde 
Light (Let There Be Light) which dealt with the destructive 
nature of syphilis. This was in 1917. As box-office receipts justified 
his hygienic zeal, Oswald continued to keep the light burning by 
adding, in 1918, a second and third part.* The film was drawn out 
like an accordion. In the same year Davidson's Union, obviously 
stimulated by Oswald's success, released Kbimendes Lebbn (Ger- 
mutatino Liee) ; featuring Jannings, it advertised hygiene under 
the auspices of a high-ranking medical officer.^ This dignified 
patronage of course bewitched the censors. 

When, immediately after the war, the Council of People's Rep- 
resentatives abolished censorship — a measure revealing that govern- 
ment's confused ideas about revolutionary exigencies — ^the effect was 
not a transformation of the screen into a political platform, but a 
sudden increase of films which pretended to be concerned with sexual 
enlightenment. Now that they had nothing to fear from official super- 
vision, they all indulged in a copious depiction of sexual debauch- 
eries. Refreshed by the atmosphere of freedom, Richard Oswald felt 
in so creative a mood that he annexed a fourth part to Let There 
Be Light, and also made a film called Pbostittttiok. Scores of 
similar products swarmed out under such alluring titles as Vom 
Rande des Sttmpfes (From the Verge of the Swamp), Prauen, 


Abyss), Vbri.orbne Tochter (Lost Daughters), Htanen ber 
Ltjst (Hyenas or Lust), and so forth. One of them, GsLtiBDE der 
Keuchheit (Vow OF Chastity), intermingled pictures detailing 
the love affairs of a Catholic priest with shots of devotees reciting 

3 Kalbus, Deutsche Ftlmkunst, T, 40-41. 

* Ibid., p. 41 ; Jahrbuch der Fiknindustrie, 1922/8, p. 28. 



the rosary for the sake of the priest's soul. Two other films, sig- 
nificantly entitled Aus eines Mannes Madchenjahren (A Man's 
Girlhood) and Anders axs die Andern (Different from the 
Others) , dwelt upon homosexual propensities ; they capitalized on 
the noisy resonance of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld's campaign against 
Paragraph 175 of the penal code which exacted punishment for 
certain abnormal sex practices.^ 

The appeal to sensual curiosity proved a sound commercial 
speculation. According to the balance sheets, many a movie theater 
doubled its monthly revenues whenever it exhibited outspoken sex 
films.^ These were naturally advertised in suitable terms. For in- 
stance, the film Das Madchen ttnd die Manner (The Gmii and 
THE Men) was played up as "a very spicy picture drawn from the 
life of a girl who storms through her youth in the arms of men, and 
fades away with a nostalgic longing for the greatness of unattain- 
able purity." Films of that ilk attracted the multitude of demobi- 
lized soldiers not yet adjusted to a civilian life which seemed to 
reject them, the numerous youngsters who had grown up like weeds 
while their fathers were in the war, and all those who in times out 
of joint always come to the fore, seeking jobs, gambling, waiting 
for opportunities or simply prowling the streets. The more privi- 
leged also enjoyed these stimulants, as can be inferred from the 
success of Opxtm, which ran in an expensive Berlin movie theater with 
the house sold out for three weeks.^ Of course, one avoided being 
seen on such occasions. 

The sex films testified to primitive needs arising in all belligerent 
countries after the war. Nature itself urged that people who had, 
for an eternity, faced death and destruction, reconfirm their violated 
life instincts by means of excesses. It was an all but automatic 
process; equihbrium could not be reached at once. However, since 
the Germans survived the slaughter only to undergo the hardships 
of a sort of civil war, this fashion of sex films cannot be explained 
fully as a symptom of sudden release from pressure. Nor did it 
convey a revolutionary meaning. Even though some affected to be 
scandalized by the penal code's intolerance, these films had nothing 
in common with the prewar revolt against outmoded sexual conven- 

' Kalbus, Deutsche Filmkunst, I, 41; Eger, Kinoreform, pp. 1T~18; Zimmereimcr, 
Pilmzensur, p. 76. 

« Eger, Kinoreform, p. 28. 

Ibid,, p. 17. 
« /6tU, p. 18. 



tions. Nor did they reflect the revolutionary erotic feelings that 
quivered in contemporary literature. They ^ere just vulgar films 
selling sex to the public. That the public demanded them rather 
indicated a general unwillingness to be involved in revolutionary 
activities; otherwise interest in sex would have been absorbed by 
interest in the political aims to be attained. Debaucheries are often 
an unconscious attempt to drown the consciousness of deep, inner 
frustration. This psychological mechanism seems to have forced 
itself upon many Germans. It was as if they felt paralyzed in view 
of the freedom oifered them, and instinctively withdrew into the 
unproblematic pleasures of the flesh. An aura of sadness surrounded 
the sex films. 

With the favorable response to these fihns mingled, as might 
be expected, stiff opposition. In Dusseldorf the audience of Yow 
OF Chastity went so far as to tear the screen; in Baden the public 
prosecutor seized the copies of Oswald's Peostittjtion and recom- 
mended his indictment.® Elsewhere youth took the lead. Dresden 
demonstrated against the film Frattlein Mutter (Maiben 
Mother), while the Leipzig boy scouts (Wmderodgel) issued a 
manifesto disapproving of all screen trash and its promoters among 
the actors and owners of movie theaters.^^ 

Were these crusades the outcome of revolutionary austerity? 
That the demonstrating Dresden youth distributed anti-Semitic 
leaflets reveals this local campaign to have been a reactionary 
maneuver calculated to turn the resentments of the suffering petty 
bourgeoisie away from the old ruling class. By making the Jews 
responsible for the sex films, the wirepullers in Dresden could be 
fairly sure to influence lower middle-class people in the desired direc- 
tion. For these orgies and extravagances were condemned with a 
moral indignation which was all the more poisonous as it cloaked envy 
of those who embraced life unhesitatingly. The socialists too launched 
attacks against the sex films. In the National Assembly as well as in 
most diets they declared that their move to socialize and communal- 
ize the film industry would best serve to exterminate the plague 
on the screen.^^ But to suggest socialization for reasons of conven- 
tional morality was an argument that discredited the cause it sup* 
ported. The cause was a revolutionary shift; the argument suited the 

^ Kalbus, DeitUeJi^ FUmkmtt, I, 41>42. 

^0 Eger, Kinoreformt pp. 27-28. 

" Thid., p. 81 J Moreck, Siitengesekiohte, pp. 87-59. 



mind of philistines. This exemplifies tlie cleavage between the convic- 
tions of many socialists and their middle-class dispositions. 

The plague raged through 1919 and then subsided. In May 
1920, the National Assembly rejected several motions in favor of 
socialization, and simultaneously passed a law governing all film 
matters of the Reich. National censorship was resumed.^ 

The other type of film in vogue after the war was the historical 
pageant. WhUe the sex films crowded the lower depths of the screen 
world, the histories self-assuredly settled themselves in the higher 
realms reserved for art. Whether they really represented summits 
of artistic perfection or not, they were planned as such by the 
founding fathers of Ufa who, as has been seen, promoted the idea 
of putting art to the service of propaganda. 

An interesting article published in January 1920 by Rudolf 
Pabst testifies to the thoroughness with which the Germans prepared 
for the reconquest of a prominent economic and cultural position.^^ 
Pabst severdy criticized the current advertising shorts for sub- 
ordinating entertaimnent to propaganda. Since any audience, he 
argued, desires to be entertained, these shorts were resented as bor- 
ing interludes. He explained the tremendous success of most foreign 
propaganda films precisely by the fact that they were feature films 
full of suspense and action — ^films, he emphasized, which implied 
propaganda subtly instead of shouting it from the rooftops. His 
conclusion was that the Germans should not outrightly advertise 
to people abroad their unbroken economic efficiency, but should 
rather lure them into recognizing it through full-length pictures 
offering outstanding entertainment. To serve as a means to an end 
this screen entertainment would have to seem an end in itself. It 
was not by mere chance that, about 1920, Deulig, which until now 
had specialized in propagandistic documentaries, began to include 
in its production program films of fiction.^* 

No sooner had Ufa been founded than its masters went ahead 
in the direction Pabst's article praised as good policy. There ex- 
isted a pattern of entertainment strongly appealing to their taste 
for all that was kolosscd: the Italian super spectacle. Such films as 
Quo Vadis and Cabibia had been the rage of two continents. Of 

" Jahrbuch der Filmindustrie, 1922/8, p. 81. 

" Pabst, "Bedeutung des Films," Modeme Kinematographie, 1920, p. 26 flf. See 
also Vincent, Histoire de I' Art Cindmatographique, p. 140. 

1* Boehmer and Reitz, Film in WirUchaft wnd Reoht, p. 6. 


course, their cost was exorbitant; but Ufa could afford to spend 
millions. It began investing them in the film Veritas Vincit made 
by Joe May in 1918 — a gigantic nonentity which resorted to the 
theory of the transmigration of souls to drag a love story through 
three pompously staged historic ages.^** 

More important achievements followed this first attempt at 
grandiloquence; they were inspired by Davidson who, after the 
great merger of November 1917, had become one of Ufa's chief 
executives. Davidson dreamed of gorgeous dramas featuring his new 
favorite, Pola Negri, and since he considered Lubitsch the only one 
to handle such a superior woman, he tried hard to make the project 
alluring to him. "No, dear director," Lubitsch answered, "this is not 
for me. I am going on with my comedies." But he finally yielded to 
Davidson's wishes. While the war was slowly approaching its end, 
Lubitsch directed Pola Negri in two fihns, Dm Mumie Ma (The 
Eyes or the Mummy) and Carmen (Gypsy Blood). These fihns, 
which co-starred his actor-friends Emil Jannings and Harry 
Liedtke, established his reputation as a dramatic director and re- 
vealed him to be a true disciple of Max Reinhardt, whose stage de- 
vices he adapted to the screen.^^ 

The response to Gypsy Blood was suflSciently promising to en- 
courage further production of spectacular dramas. In the first two 
postwar years Lubitsch made four of them which thoroughly justi- 
fied the hopes Davidson had for their international success. This 
famous series began with Madame dtj Bajelry (Passion), released in 
Berlin's largest movie theater, the Ufa-Palast am Zoo, on Septem- 
ber 18, 1919, the very day of its opening to the public." Huge dem- 
onstrations swept continuously through the Berlin streets at that 
time; similar throngs of aroused Parisians were unleashed in Pas- 
sion to iQustrate the French Revolution. Was it a revolutionary 
film? Here are the salient points of the plot: After becoming the 
omnipotent mistress of King Louis XV, Countess du Barry, a 
former milliner's apprentice, frees her lover, Armand de Foix, who 
has been imprisoned for slaying his adversary in a duel, and ap- 

^'^ TaimcDibaum, **Der Grossfllm," Der Film von Morgen, p. 66 j Kalbus, Deutsche 
Filmkuwt, I, 44i, 

Davidson, "Wie das deutsche Lichtspieltheater entstand," and Lubitsch, **Wie 
mein erster Grossfilm entstand," Xdcht Bild Biikne, pp. 8, 18-14; Kalbus, Deutsche 
FUmkunst, I, 45 fF. For Davidson, see **Was is los?" Ufa Magaain, April 8-14, 1927. 
For Pola Negri, see Kalbus, DeuUohe Filmkunst, I, 81-32, and Bal^s, Der tkhtbare 
Menaoh, p. 67. 

^''Jahrbuch der Filmindustrie, 1922/8, p. 29, 



points him a royal guard at the palace. But, as the Ufa synopsis 
puts it, "Armand cannot bear these new conditions, and plots, 
making the cobbler Paillet head of the revolutionary plans." Paillet 
leads a deputation to the palace at the very moment when the King 
falls prey to deadly smallpox. Meeting the cobbler on a stairway, 
Madame du Barry sends him to the Bastille. A little later — ^the 
story's contempt for historic facts is matched only by its disregard 
for their meaning — ^Armand incites the masses to storm that symbol 
of absolutist power. Louis XV dies, and his mistress, now banished 
from the court, is dragged to the revolutionary tribunal over which 
Armand presides. He tries to rescue her. However, Paillet forestalls 
this tender project by killing Armand and having Madame du Barry 
sentenced to death. At the end, she is seen on the scaffold surrounded 
by innimierable vengeful fists that emerge from a crowd fanatically 
enjoying the fall of her beautiful head. 

This narrative of Hans Kraly's, who also fashioned the rest of 
the Lubitsch pageants in collaboration with Norbert Falk and 
others, drains the Revolution of its significance. Instead of tracing 
all revolutionary events to their economic and ideal causes, it per- 
sistently presents them as the outcome of psychological conflicts. 
It is a deceived lover who, animated by the desire for retaliation, 
talks the masses into capturing the Bastille. Similarly, Madame du 
Barry's execution is related not so much to political reasons as to 
motives of personal revenge. Passion does not exploit the passions 
inherent in the Revolution, but reduces the Revolution to a derivative 
of private passions. If it were otherwise, the tragic death of 
both lovers would hardly overshadow the victorious rising of the 

Lubitsch's three subsequent superproductions were in the same 
vein. In Anna Boleyn (Deception, 1920) he spent 8% million 
marks on an elaborate depiction of Henry VIII's sex life, setting it 
off against a colorful background which included court intrigues, 
the Tower, two thousand extras and some historic episodes. In this 
particular case he did not have to distort the given facts very much 
to make history seem the product of a tyrant's private life. Here, 
too, despotic lusts destroy tender affections: a hired cavalier kills 
Anne Boleyn's lover, and finally she herself mounts the executioner's 
block. To intensify the sinister atmosphere torture episodes were 

18 "Passion," Exceptiorud Photoplays, Nov. 1920; Ufa VerleihrProgramme, 1928, 




inserted which an early reriewer called a "terse suggestion of medi- 
eval horror and callous infliction of death.'' 

All these ingredients reappeared in Das Weib des Phabao (The 
Loves of Phabaoh, 1921), which nevertheless impressed the audi- 
ence as new, because it substituted the Sphinx for the Tower, and 
considerably increased the number of extras and intrigues. Its tyrant 
figure, the Pharaoh Amenes, is so infatuated with the Greek slave 
Theonis that he refuses to hand the girl back to her legitimate 
owner, an Ethiopian king; whereupon the two nations become in- 
volved in a bloody war. That Theonis prefers a young man named 
Ramphis to the Pharaoh adds the desired final touch to the emotional 
and political confusion. In a state of absent-mindedness the story 
unexpectedly heads for a happy ending, but at the last moment 
the tragic sense prevails, and instead of surviving their troubles, the 
lovers are stoned by the people, while Amenes dies from a stroke 
or inner exhaustion.^** 

SuMURUN (One Arabian Night, 1920), a screen version of 
Reinhardt's stage pantomime Svmwrim with Pola Negri in the title 
role, withdrew from the realms of history into Oriental fairy-tale 
surroundings, making an old sheik in search of sex adventures the 
comical counterpart of Amenes and Henry VIII. The sheik surprises 
his son and his mistress, a young dancer, in each other anns — an 
incident prearranged by a hunchbacked juggler who wants to take 
revenge for the indifference the dancer has shown him. In a fit of 
jealousy the sheik kills the sinful couple, whereupon the sensitive 
hunchback, in turn, feels urged to stab the sheik. Loaded with 
kisses and corpses, this showy fantasy pretended superiority to its 
theme by satirizing it pleasantly.*^ 

The whole series gave rise to numerous historical pageants which 
invariably adopted the standardized plot Lubitsch and his collabo- 
rators had fashioned, Buchowetski's much-praised Danton (AlIi 
FOR A Woman, released in 1921) outdid even Passion in its con- 
tempt for the French Revolution. Envying Danton his popularity, 
the Robespierre of this fihn accuses him of debauchery and con- 
nivance with the aristocrats, but Danton's masterful speech during 

Quotation from "Deception," Exceptional Photopla^fs, April 1921, p. 4. See also 
Tamnenbaum, "Der Gfrossfilm,'* D«r FUm von Morten, pp. 66, 68, 71; Ufa Verleih- 
Profframme, 1928, I, 10. For Henny Parten in this film, see Ami^et, QinSmat 
CinSmal, pp. 61-62. 

Program to this film; Kalbus, Ventscht FUmkvmt, I, 47. 
91 Program to this iUm; Jacobs, AmeHoan Film, p. 806; FUm Indev, p. 800b. 



the trial transforms the suspidous audience into a crowd of ecstatic 
followers. To avert this threat Robespierre spreads the rumor that 
food has arrived and will be gratuitously distributed. The trick 
works : the people run away, leaving Danton to the mercy of his 
pitiless enemy. According to this film, the masses are as despicable 
as their leaders.^^ 

The international reception of any achievement depends upon 
its capacity for arousing fertile misunderstandings everywhere. 
Lubitsch's fihns — ^the first German postwar productions to be shown 
abroad — ^possessed this capacity. Towards the end of 1920, they 
began to appear in America, enthusiastically received by a public 
which at that time rather repudiated costume drama. All contem- 
porary reviewers were unanimous in praising as the main virtue of 
these films their sense of authenticity, their outstanding "historical 
realism." "History," a critic wrote of Deception, "is presented to 
us naked and real and unromanticized in all its grandeur and its 
barbarism." Uneasy about the failure of Wilson's policy, the Ameri- 
can people had obviously such a craving for history debunked that 
they were attracted by films which pictured great historic events 
as the work of unscrupulous wire-pullers. Consequently, Lubitsch 
was called the "great humanizer of history" and the "Griffith of 
Europe." ^ 

The French had suffered too much from Germany to react as 
naively as the Americans. Obsessed by distrust, they imagined that 
anything coming from beyond the Rhine was intended to poison 
them. They therefore considered Lubitsch a clever propagandist 
rather than a great humanizer, and suspected his films of deliberately 
smearing the past of the Allies. In these films, the Paris film writer 
Canudo declared, "French history . . . was depicted by the per- 
verted and sexual pen of the Germans." The same opinion prevailed 
in other countries neighboring Germany. Although Fred.-Ph. 
Amiguet of Geneva was amiable enough to admire the verve of the 
Lubitsch spectacles, he bluntly stigmatized them as "instrviments 
of vengeance." These emotional judgments were hardly justified. 

^"All for a Woman," ExeeptioTuU Photoplays, Nov. 1921, pp. 4-6; Zaddach, Der 
KteraHsohe Film, p. 41. 

33 Quotation about Decepxiok comes from "Deception," Exceptional Photoplays, 
April 1921, p. 4; quotation about Lubitsch cited hy Jacobs, American Filmy p. 806. 

**Ceuiudo quotation from Jahier, "42 Ans de Cinema," Le Bdle intellectuel cki 
Cin4ma, pp. 69-60. Amiguet, Cinema! Cin4mal, pp. 88-84; Bardfeche and Brasillach, 
Bistory of Motion Pictures, p. 189; Vincent, Hiatoire de VArt Cinimatographique, p. 


That the Lubitsch fibns did not aim at discrediting French or 
English history follows conclusively from the vital interest Ufa had 
in selling them to the Allies. 

In his history of German fihn art, a Nazi-minded product with 
some remnants of pre-Nazi evaluations, Oskar Kalbus connects the 
vogue of historical pageants with the moment of their production; 
they were produced, he contends, "because in times of national emer- 
gency people are particularly susceptible to representations of great 
historic periods and personalities." He completely overlooks the 
fact that this susceptibility was betrayed by fihns representing not 
so much historic periods as personal appetites and seeming to seize 
upon history for the sole purpose of removing it thoroughly from 
the field of vision.^® It is not as if the historical fihns of Italian or 
American origin had ever achieved miracles of perspicacity ; but the 
sustained lack of comprehension in the Lubitsch fihns is significant 
inasmuch as they emerged at a moment when it would have been 
in the interest of the new democratic regime to enlighten the people 
about social and political developments. All these German pageants 
which the Americans mistook for summits of "historical realism" 
instinctively sabotaged any understanding of historic processes, any 
attempt to explore patterns of conduct in the past. 

A hint of the true meaning of the Lubitsch fihns can be found 
in the fact that Lubitsch played the hunchback in One Arabian 
Night. It was at that time quite exceptional for him to take a role 
himself. After stabbing the sheik and freeing all the women in his 
harem, the hunchback returns from the scene of wholesale murder 
to his fair booth, *^He must dance and gambol again," the Ufa 
prospectus states, *'for the public wants a laugh." Through his 
identification with a juggler who drowns horrors in jokes, Lubitsch 
involuntarily deepens the impression that the vogue he helped to 
create originated in a blend of cynicism and melodramatic senti- 
mentality. The touch of melodrama made the implications of this 
C3ntticism more palatable. Its source was a nihilistic outlook on world 
affairs, as can be inferred from the stern determination with which 
the Lubitsch fihns and their like not only put insatiable rulers to 
death, but also destroyed young lovers representative of all that 
counts in life. They characterized history as meaningless. History, 
they seemed to say, is an arena reserved for blind and ferocious 

Kalbus, Deutsche Filmktmst, I, 51. 
26 Cf. Chowl, "The French Revolution," Close Up, May 1929, p. 49. 



instincts, a product of devilish machinations forever frustrating our 
hopes for freedom and happiness. 

Designed for mass consumption, this nihilistic gospel must have 
satisfied widespread wants. It certainly poured balm on the wounds 
of innumerable Germans who, because of the humiliating defeat of 
the fatherland, refused any longer to acknowledge history as an in- 
strument of justice or Providence. By degrading the French Revo- 
lution to a questionable adventure in both Passion and All fob a 
Woman, that nihilism moreover revealed itself as a symptom of 
strong antirevolutionary, if not antidemocratic, tendencies in post- 
war Germany. It was, for once, a nihilism that did not scare the 
nation. Why.? The only tenable explanation is that, whether con- 
sciously or not, the majority of people lived in fear of social changes 
and therefore welcomed films which defamed not only bad rulers 
but also good revolutionary causes. These films outrightly encour- 
aged the existing resistance to any emotional shift that might have 
enlivened the German Republic. Their basic nihilism made them 
indulge also in images of utter destruction, which, like those of The 
Student or Prague or Homunculus, reflected forebodings of a 
final doom. 

American observers admired the free use made of the camera 
in these Lubitsch pageants. Lewis Jacobs remarks of them that it 
was revolutionary in those days "to tilt a camera toward the sky 
or turn it toward an arabesque mosaic in a floor, and to see the backs 
of a crowd was unorthodox ; quick cutting, too, was shocking.'' ^"^ 
His statement mistakenly suggests that the Lubife. i films were the 
first to develop this camera initiative, but it was the war that had 
aroused the camera's curiosity by making it focus upon subjects 
of military importance. Photographs of a shell crater with a few 
pairs of legs at the upper margin or an agglomeration of rifles, 
truck wheels and torsos were then quite common.^® While tradi- 
tional aesthetics would have condemned such photographs as in- 
coherent, the war generation which had become accustomed to them 
began enjoying their singular power of expression. This change 
of visual habits emboldened the camera to emphasize parts of bodies, 
to capture objects from unusual angles. 

Lubitsch's method of furthering the dramatic action through 

Jacobs, American FUm, p. 806. Surprisingly, Jacobs forgets to mention in this 
connection D. W. Griffith, whose film techniques surpassed tliose of Lubitsch. 
Gregor, Zeitalter des Filma, pp. 81-82. 



shots of this kind was an additional innovation. Shaken by catas- 
trophe, the Germans had to adjust their conventional notions to the 
needs of the moment. In the wake of any such metamorphosis per- 
spectives change: things consecrated by tradition lose their prestige, 
wliile others that have been as yet overlooked suddenly come to the 
fore. Since the Lubitsch pageants substituted for the old conception 
of history one that dissolved history into psychology, they were 
naturally obliged to resort to a new set of pictorial elements. Their 
psychological tendency made them single out such details as the 
arabesque mosaic or the backs of a crowd — seeming bagatelles 
which, however, effectively underlined major emotional events. 

What fascinated the public most was "Mr. Lubitsch's indis- 
putable talent for handling crowds.'* Many years after the release 
of his films moviegoers stiU remembered as their main attraction 
the throngs of the Paris rabble in Passion, the agitated battle scenes 
in The Loves of Phaeaoh and that episode of Deception which 
showed all London before the Tower attending Anna Boleyn's sol- 
emn entrance.®** Lubitsch had of course learned from Max Reinhardt, 
who early proved himself a master in the art of surrounding his 
stage crowds with appropriate space and orchestrating their move- 
ments dramatically. Perhaps Reinhardt sensed coming events, for 
crowds were to develop from an element of his stage into one of 
German everyday life — a process that reached its climax after the 
war, when no one could avoid encountering them on streets and 
squares. These masses were more than a weighty social factor ; they 
were as tangible as any individual. A hope to some and a nightmare 
to others, they haunted the imagination. Ernst Toller's "speaking 
chorus" tried to endow them with a voice of their own, and Reinhardt 
himself paid tribute to them by founding his short-lived "Theater 
of the Five Thousand." 

The moment for rendering crowds on the screen was well chosen 
inasmuch as they now assumed the aspect of dynamic units sweeping 
through large spaces — ^an aspect which the screen rather than the 
stage was able to mirror. Lubitsch knew how to handle such crowds, 
and even showed true originality in elaborating a feature familiar 

a*» Quotation from "The Loves of Pharaoh," ExcepUonal Photoplays, Jan.-Feb. 
1922, p. a See also "Passion,*' ibid., Nov. 1920, p. 8, 

aoBirnbaum, "Massenscenen im Film," Ufa-Blatter; Tannenbaum, "Der Gross- 
fihn," Der FUm von Morten, p. 66. 

siBirnbaum, "Massenscenen im Film," Ufa-BUitter; Samuel and Thomas, Ex- 
pressionism in Oerman Life, pp. 46-47; Preedley and Reeves, JBistory of the Theatre, 
esp. p. 529, 



to all postwar Germans: the contrast between the individual in the 
crowd and the crowd itself as a solid mass. To this end he used an 
exclusively cinematic device which cannot better be described than 
in the following words of Miss Lejeune: "Lubitsch had a way of 
manipulating his puppets that gave multitude, and in contrast, 
loneliness, a new force. No one before had so filled and drained his 
spaces with the wheeling mass, rushing in the figures from every 
corner to cover the screen, dispersing them again like a whirlwind, 
with one single figure staunch in the middle of the empty square." 
The mass scene typical of the Lubitsch films decomposed the crowd 
to exhibit as its nucleus "one single figure" who, after the crowd's 
dissolution, was left alone in the void. Thus the individual appeared 
as a forlorn creature in a world threatened by mass domination 
[nius. 1] . Paralleling the stereotyped plot of all those pageants, this 
pictorial device treated the pathetic solitude of the individual with 
a sympathy which implied aversion to the plebeian mass and fear 
of its dangerous power. It was a device that testified to the anti- 
democratic inclinations of the moment. 

In the Lubitsch films and their derivatives — ^these portrayed, in 
addition to Danton, such characters as Lucrezia Borgia and Lady 
Hamilton — ^two disparate tendencies constantly intermingled.^* One 
manifested itself in architectural structures, costumes and genre 
scenes which resurrected bygone surface life. With this extrovert 
tendency an introvert one competed : the depiction of certain psycho- 
logical configurations with an utter disregard for given facts. But 
this medley did not disturb anyone. The film-makers were expert at 
molding the ingredients of a film into a prepossessing mixture that 
would conceal divergences rather than expose them. What this mix- 
ture did reveal, of course, was the inherent nihilism of which I have 

The deceptive blend of conventional realism and overweening 
psychology Lubitsch and his followers devised was never generally 
adopted. In most important German postwar films introspection 
outweighed the extrovert tendency. Influenced not so much by 
Lubitsch's pseudo-realistic Passion as by Wegener's fantastic Stit- 

3» Lejeune, Cinema, p. 64; Tannenbaum, **Der Grossfilm,'* Der Film von Morgen, 
p. 66. 

38 For LtTCHEziA BoBoiA (1922), see Tannenbaum, ibid., p. 67, and Zaddach, Der 
Uterarische FUm, pp. 46-49. For Ladt Hamiltoit (1921), see Tannenbaum, ibid., p. 67, 
and Birnbaum, "Massenscenen im FUm," Vfor-Bldtter, See also Kalbus, jyeutsche 
FUmhwMt, I, 52-68, 60. 



DENT OF Prague, these films reflected major events in emotional 
depths with an intensity that transformed customary surroundings 
into strange jungles. They predominated between 1920 and 1924, 
a period which will be considered as a consecutive whole. 

But before examining the essential achievements of the postwar 
period, some attention must be given to films of secondary impor- 
tance. To characterize them in this way is a verdict on their sympto- 
matic rather than aesthetic value. They satisfied wants of the moment 
or obsolete tastes, seized upon provincial peculiarities as well as upon 
themes of world-wide interest. Significantly, they did not follow 
the introvert tendency of the time, but dealt with subjects that 
allowed them more or less to preserve the usual aspects of life. 
Among them, flourishing from 1919 to 1920, was a group of popular 
films concerned with sensational adventures encountered at every 
known or unknown spot on earth. The unknown spots were pre- 
ferred because of their exotic spell. In Die Herrin der Welt 
(Mistress of the World), a serial in eight parts, a valiant Ger- 
man girl traveled from the unexplored interior of China to the 
legendary country of Ophir to find there the fabulous treasure of 
the Queen of Sheba.^* 

Other fihns of this kind— such as the gay Der Mann ohne 
Namen (Man Without a Name) and Fritz Lang's first picture, 
Die Spinnen (The Spiders) — also assumed the form of lengthy 
serials, perhaps tempted by the immensity of geographical space 
they covered.'^ Even though Joe May's 20-miUion'-mark film Das 
Indische Grabmax (The Indian Tomb) modestly confined itself 
to India and normal footage, it outdid the serials in thrilling epi- 
sodes. This superproduction, which imparted the same sinister moral 
as the Lubitsch pageants, not only adapted the miraculous practices 
of yoga to the screen, but showed rats gnawing the fetters of its 
captive hero, elephants forming a gigantic lane and an all-out 
fight against tigers.^® Circuses at that time made nice profits out of 
animal rentals. 

The whole group of films, with its craving for exotic sceneries, re- 
sembled a prisoner's daydream. The prison was of course the muti- 
sm Program to this film; Kalbus, ibid., pp, 4,t^S. 

35 Kalbus, ibid., p. 48. For other exotic adventurer films of this kind, see Birn- 
baum, "Massenscenen im Film," Ufa-Blamr, and Kalbus, ibid,, pp. 90-91. 

Kalbus, ibid., pp. 49, 94; Miihsam, **Tiere im Film," Vfa^Bldttor; Tannenbaum, 
**Der Grossfiam," Der Film von Morgen^ p. 71 ; BalAzs, Per Hehtbare Menach, p. 112. 



lated and blockaded fatherland ; at least, this was the way most Ger- 
mans felt about it. What they called their world mission had been 
thwarted, and now all exits seemed barred. These space-devouriag 
fihns reveal how bitterly the average German resented his involun- 
tary seclusion. They functioned as substitutes ; they naively satisfied 
his suppressed desire for expansion through pictures that enabled his 
imagination to reannex the world, including Ophir. As for Ophir, 
the prospectus of Mistress of the World did not forget to note 
that the idea of locating this mythical kingdom in Africa had been 
advocated by Karl Peters. Since Karl Peters was the promoter of the 
German Colonization Society (Deutscher Koloniaherem) and one of 
the founders of German East Africa, the mention of his name overtly 
indicated the film's timely connotations. Inflation prevented the film 
producers at that moment from sending costly expeditions to the 
edge of the world.^*^ The consequence was that a Chinese pagoda 
topped a German hill, and Brandenburg's sandy plain served as a 
genuine desert. This extensive faking proved a vehicle of progress 
inasmuch as it forced the German studio teams to develop many a 
new craft. 

In the interest of completeness — a mania too boring to be culti- 
vated, yet too rewarding to be altogether suppressed — one should not 
overlook the comedies produced during that period of introvert 
films. It was again Lubitsch who took the lead in this field, which 
he had left only to oblige Davidson. Had he left it? While he was 
inciting a mass of extras to curse Madame du Barry and cheer 
Anne Boleyn, he was also directing a sort of film operetta, Die 
PuppE (The Doll, 1919), and the satire Die Austernprinzessen 
(The Oyster Princess, 1919) which is said to have clumsily ridi- 
culed American habits within spectacular settings.^® Thus he put 
into practice the philosophy of his hunchback in Sumurun who 
"must dance and gambol again, for the public wants a laugh." 
Considering the speed with which Lubitsch exchanged murders and 
tortures for dancing and joking, it is highly probable that his 
comedies sprang from the same mhilism as his historical dramas. 
This tendency made it easy for him to drain great events of their 
seriousness and realize comical potentialities in trifles. Seasoned by 
him, such trifles became truffles. From 1921 on, having done away 

s"' Kalbus, Deutsche Fdmkunst, 1, 102-^. 

38 Vincent, Eistoire de VArt OinSmatoffraphique, p. 142; Bardfeche and Brasillach, 
History of Motion Pictures, pp. 189-90; Kalbus, Deutsche Ftlmkunst, I, 85-86. 


with history, Lubitsch devoted himself almost exclusively to the 
savory entertaimnent of which he was master. In his coolly received 
Die Bergkatze (Mountain Cat, 1921), Pola Negri moved, a 
catlike brigand's daughter, between swollen architectural forms 
which assisted in a parody of boastful Balkan manners, pompous 
militarism and, perhaps, the expressionist vogue.^^ 

If it were not for Lubitsch, the German fihn comedies of the time 
would hardly be worth mentioning. Adaptations of operettas and 
stage plays — among these the indestructible Ai.t Heidelbebg (Sttt- 
DENT Prince, 1923) — ^prevailed over products of genuine screen 
humor, and American comedies ingratiated themselves more effec- 
tively than the native ones with a public eager for a moment's laugh- 
ter.*® This proves again that in Germany the natural desire for hap- 
piness was not so much catered to as tolerated. 

Escapist needs were somewhat balanced by the urge to take sides 
in the conflict of opinions. A true expression of philistine indigna- 
tion, several films deplored the general postwar depravity, the craze 
for dancing and the noumaux ricTies.^^ Outright propaganda mes- 
sages intermingled with these moral verdicts. Two films discredited 
the French army, causing the French government to send sharp 
notes to Berlin; others incurred the censor's veto by spreading anti- 
Semitic and antirepublican views.*^ Owing to the tense atmosphere 
of those years, even remote themes occasionally aroused political 
passions. In 1923, the Munich performance of a film version of 
Lessing's Nathan the Wise had to be discontinued because of anti- 
Semitic riots — an incident foreshadowing the notorious Berlin Nazi 
demonstrations which, nine years later, were to result in the pro- 
hibition of Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front.^ 
However, all these screen events are of a merely ideological interest; 
they characterize group intentions rather than group dispositions. 

As early as 1919 Dr. Victor E. Pordes, a German writer on 
aesthetics, complained of the awkwardness with which the German 
screen shaped stories involving scenes of society life and questions 
of satjoir-faire. Whenever civilized manners are to be mirrored, he 

a^Kalbus, ibid,, p. 86; Kurtz, Empressionitmus, p. 82. 
Kalbus, J>6uUche Filmkimst, I, esp. 77. For early German film comedies, see also 
Ufa VerleOi'Programme, 1928/1924, p. 68jBP. 

*^ Kalbus, Deutsche Fihnkunstj I, 58. 
Jahrbuch der Filmmdustne, 1922/8, pp. 88, 41. 

^^Jahrbuch der Filmindustrie, 1922/8, p. 46 i Kalbus, Deutsche Ftlrnkwut, I, 68; 
Zaddach, Der Uterarische Film, pp. 49^0. 



said, Danish, French and American fikns by far surpass the German 
ones "in the social education and quality of the bulk of players, in 
the tone, shading and artistic discretion of acting, and finally in the 
precise knowledge and observance of manners." But it was cer- 
tainly not sheer inability that interfered with the rendering of man- 
ners on the German screen. Rather, Pordes' criticism corroborates 
what has already been stated about the introvert tendency of all 
representative films up to 1924. They were not intended to record 
given phenomena; their failure to do so was an inevitable con- 
sequence of their intrinsic design. The progressive literary products 
and paintings of the time manifested exactly the same aversion to 
realism. Yet this similarity of style did not exclude dijfferences of 
content and meaning; on the contrary, in all such essentials the 
screen went its own, independent way. The introvert tendency it fol- 
lowed up must be traced to powerful collective desires. Millions of 
Germans, in particular middle-class Germans, seem to have shut 
themselves off from a world determined by Allied pressure, violent 
internal struggles and inflation. They acted as if under the influence 
of a terrific shock which upset normal relations between their outer 
and inner existence. On the surface, they lived on as before ; psycho- 
logically, they withdrew within themselves. 

This retreat into a shell was favored by several circumstances. 
First, it admirably suited the interests of the German ruling set, 
whose chances of survival depended upon the readiness of the masses 
to pass over the reasons for their sufferings. Secondly, the middle- 
class strata had always been content with being governed, and now 
that political freedom had come overnight, they were theoretically 
as well as practically unprepared to assume responsibilities. The 
shock they experienced was caused by the inroads of freedom. 
Thirdly, they entered the arena at a moment when any attempt to 
make up for the aborted bourgeois emancipation was bound to pre- 
cipitate a socialist solution. And would the Social Democrats them- 
selves venture on revolutionary experiments? The whole situation 
seemed so thorny that no one felt bold enough to cope with it. 

Nevertheless, it would be an undue simplification to label the 
psychological exodus from the outer world a merely retrogressive 
move. During the period of its retreat, the German mind was shaken 
by convulsions which upset the whole emotional system. While this 
mind neglected, or obstructed, all external revolutionary possibilities, 

Pordes, I>a» Liohtapiel, p. 106. 



it made an extreme effort to reconsider the foundations of the self, to 
adjust the self to the actual conditions of life. Qualms about those 
deep-rooted dispositions which had supported the collapsed authori- 
tative regime constantly interfered with the desire to keep them alive. 
It is true that during the postwar years introspection dealt solely 
with the isolated individual. But this does not necessarily mean that 
the Germans insisted upon perpetuating the individual's autonomy 
at the expense of his social liabilities. Rather, the German conception 
of the individual was so rich in traditional values that it could not 
unhesitatingly be thrown overboard. 

The films of the postwar period from 1920 to 1924» are a unique 
TTumologue intSrieur. They reveal developments in almost inaccessible 
layers of the German mind. 


The Czech Hans Janowitz, one of the two authors of the film Das 
Cabinet des Dr. Calioari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), was 
brought up in Prague — ^that city where reality fuses with dreams, 
and dreams turn into visions of horror.^ One evening in October 1913 
this young poet was strolling through a fair at Hamburg, trying to 
find a girl whose beauty and manner had attracted him. The tents of 
the fair covered the Reeperbahn, known to any sailor as one of the 
world's chief pleasure spots. Nearby, on the Holstenwall, Lederer's 
gigantic Bismarck monument stood sentinel over the ships in the 
harbor. In search of the girl, Janowitz followed the fragile trail of 
a laugh which he thought hers into a dim park bordering the Hol- 
stenwall. The laugh, which apparently served to lure a young man, 
vanished somewhere in the shrubbery. When, a short time later, the 
young man departed, another shadow, hidden until then in the 
bushes, suddenly emerged and moved along — as if on the scent of 
that laugh. Passing this uncanny shadow, Janowitz caught a glimpse 
of him: he looked like an average bourgeois. Darkness reabsorbed 
the man, and made further pursuit impossible. The following day big 
headlines in the local press announced: **Horrible sex crime on the 
Holstenwall! Young Gertrude . . . murdered." An obscure feeling 
that Gertrude might have been the girl of the fair impelled Janowitz 
to attend the victim's f tmeral. During the ceremony he suddenly had 
the sensation of discovering the murderer, who had not yet been 
captured. The man he suspected seemed to recognize him, too. It was 
the bourgeois — ^the shadow in the bushes. 

Carl Mayer, co-author with Janowitz of Cam&ari, was born in 
the Austrian provincial capital of Graz, where his father, a wealthy 

* The following episode, along with other data appearing in my pages on Cauoabi, 
is drawn from an interesting manuscript Mr. Hans Janowitz has written about the 
genesis of this film. I feel greatly indebted to him for having put his material at my 
disposal. I am thus in a position to base my interpretation of Cauoaxi on the true 
inside story, up to now unknown. 



businessman, would have prospered had he not been obsessed by the 
idea of becoming a "scientific'' gambler. In the prime of life he sold 
his property, went, armed with an infallible **system," to Monte 
Carlo, and reappeared a few months later in Graz:, broke. Under the 
stress of this catastrophe, the monomaniac father turned the sixteen- 
year-old Carl and his three younger brothers out into the street and 
finally committed suicide. A mere boy, Carl Mayer was responsible 
for the three children. While he toured through Austria, peddling 
barometers, singing in choirs and playing extras in peasant theaters, 
he became increasingly interested in the stage. There was no branch 
of theatrical production which he did not explore during those years 
of nomadic life — ^years full of experiences that were to be of immense 
use in his future career as a Sim poet. At the beginning of the war, 
the adolescent made his living by sketching Hindenburg portraits on 
postcards in Munich caf^s. Later in the war, Janowitz reports, he 
had to undergo repeated examinations of his mental condition. Mayer 
seems to have been very embittered against the high-ranking military 
psychiatrist in charge of his case. 

The war was over. Janowitz, who from its outbreak had been 
an officer in an infantry regiment, returned as a convinced pacifist, 
animated by hatred of an authority which had sent millions of men 
to death. He felt that absolute authority was bad in itself. He settled 
in Berlin, met Carl Mayer there, and soon found out that this eccen- 
tric young man, who had never before written a line, shared his 
revolutionary moods and views. Why not express them on the screen? 
Intoxicated with Wegener's films, Janowitz believed that this new 
medium might lend itself to powerful poetic revelations. As youth 
will, the two friends embarked on endless discussions that hovered 
around Janowitz' Holstenwall adventure as well as Mayer's mental 
duel with the psychiatrist. These stories seemed to evoke and supple- 
ment each other. After such discussions the pair would stroll through 
the night, irresistibly attracted by a dazzling and clamorous fair on 
Kantstrasse. It was a bright jungle, more hell than paradise, but a 
paradise to those who had exchanged the horror of war for the terror 
of want. One evening, Mayer dragged his companion to a side-show 
by which he had been impressed. Under the title "Man or Machine" 
it presented a strong man who achieved miracles of strength in an 
apparent stupor. He acted as if he were hypnotized. The strangest 
thing was that he accompanied his feats with utterances which 
affected the spellbound spectators as pregnant forebodings. 



Any creative process approaches a moment when only one addi- 
tional experience is needed to integrate all elements into a whole. The 
mysterious figure of the strong man supplied such an experience. 
On the night of this show the friends first visualized the original story 
of Caligabi. They wrote the manuscript in the following six weeks. 
Defining the part each took in the work, Janowitz calls himself "the 
father who planted the seed, and Mayer the mother who conceived 
and ripened it." At the end, one small problem arose: the authors 
were at a loss as to what to christen their main character, a psychi- 
atrist shaped after Mayer's archenemy during the war. A rare 
volume. Unknown Letters of Stendhal, offered the solution. While 
Janowitz was skimming through this find of his, he happened to 
notice that Stendhal, just come from the battlefield, met at La Scala 
in Milan an officer named Caligari. The name clicked with both 

Their story is located in a fictitious North German town near the 
Dutch border, significantly called HolstenwaU. One day a fair moves 
into the town, with merry-go-rounds and side-shows — ^among the 
latter that of Dr. Caligari, a weird, bespectacled man advertising 
the somnambulist Cesare, To procure a license, Caligari goes to the 
town hall, where he is treated haughtily by an arrogant official. The 
following morning this official is found murdered in his room, which 
does not prevent the townspeople from enjoying the fair's pleasures. 
Along with numerous onlookers, Francis and Alan — ^two students 
in love with Jane, a medical man's daughter — enter the tent of 
Dr. Caligari, and watch Cesare slowly stepping out of an upright, 
coffinlike box. Caligari tells the thrilled audience that the somnam- 
bulist will answer questions about the future. Alan, in an excited 
state, asks how long he has to Hve. Cesare opens his mouth ; he seems 
to be dominated by a terrific, hypnotic power emanating from his 
master. "Until dawn," he answers. At dawn Francis learns that his 
friend has been stabbed in exactly the same manner as the official. 
The student, suspicious of Caligari, persuades Jane's father to assist 
him in an investigation. With a search warrant the two force their 
way into the showman's wagon, and demand that he end the trance 
of his medium. However, at this very moment they are called away 
to the police station to attend the examination of a criminal who h£is 
been caught in the act of killing a woman, and who now frantically 
denies that he is the pursued serial murderer. 

Francis continues spying on Caligari, and, after nightfall, se- 



cretly peers through a window of the wagon. But while he imagines 
he sees Cesare lying in his box, Cesare in reality breaks into Jane's 
bedroom, lifts a dagger to pierce the sleeping girl, gazes at her, puts 
the dagger away and flees, with the screaming Jane in his arms, over 
roofs and roads. Chased by her father, he drops the girl, who is then 
escorted home, whereas the lonely kidnaper dies of exhaustion. As 
Jane, in flagrant contradiction of what Francis believes to be the 
truth, insists on having recognized Cesare, Francis approaches CaU- 
gari a second time to solve the torturing riddle. The two policemen 
in his company seize the cofiinlike box, and Francis draws out of it — 
a dirnimy representing the somnambulist. Profiting by the investi- 
gators' carelessness, Caligari himself manages to escape. He seeks 
shelter in a lunatic asylum. The student follows him, calls on the 
director of the asylum to inquire about the fugitive, and recoils 
horror-struck: the director and Caligari are one and the same 

The following night — ^the director has fallen asleep — Francis 
and three members of the medical staff whom he has initiated into the 
case search the director's office and discover material fully establish- 
ing the guilt of this authority in psychiatric matters. Among a pile 
of books they find an old volume about a showman named Caligari 
who, in the eighteenth century, traveled through North Italy, hyp- 
notized his medium Cesare into murdering sundry people, and, 
during Cesare's absence, substituted a wax figure to deceive the 
police. The main exhibit is the director's clinical records ; they evi- 
dence that he desired to verify the account of Caligari's hyptiotic 
faculties, that his desire grew into an obsession, and that, when a 
somnambulist was entrusted to his care, he could not resist the 
temptation of repeating with him those terrible games. He had 
adopted the identity of Caligari. To make him admit his crimes, 
Francis confronts the director with the corpse of his tool, the som- 
nambulist. No sooner does the monster realize Cesare is dead than he 
begins to rave. Trained attendants put him into a strait jacket. 

This horror tale in the spirit of E. T. A. Hoffmann was an out- 
spoken revolutionary story. In it, as Janowitz indicates, he and Carl 
Mayer half-intentionally stigmatized the omnipotence of a state 
authority manifesting itself in universal conscription and declara- 
tions of war. The German war government seemed to the authors 
the prototype of such voracious authority. Subjects of the Austro- 
Hungarian monarchy, they were in a better position than most citi- 



zens of the Reich to penetrate the fatal tendencies inherent in the 
German system. The character of Caligari embodies these tendencies ; 
he stands for an unlimited authority that idolizes power as such, and, 
to satisfy its lust for domination, rutlilessly violates all human rights 
and values [lUus. 2] . Functioning as a mere instrument, Cesare is 
not so much a guilty murderer as Caligari's innocent victim. This is 
how the authors themselves understood him. According to the paci- 
fist-minded Janowitz, they had created Cesare with the dim design 
of portraying the common man who, under the pressure of compul- 
sory military service, is drilled to kill and to be kiUed. The revolu- 
tionary meaning of the story reveals itself unmistakably at the end, 
with the disclosure of the psychiatrist as Caligari: reason over- 
powers unreasonable power, insane authority is symbolically abol- 
ished. Similar ideas were also being expressed on the contemporary 
stage, but the authors of CAiiiOAHi transferred them to the screen 
without including any of those eulogies of the authority-freed "New 
Man" in which many expressionist plays indulged. 

A miracle occurred: Erich Pommer, chief executive of Decla- 
Bioscop, accepted this unusual, if not subversive, script. Was it a 
miracle? Since in those early postwar days the conviction prevailed 
that foreign markets could only be conquered by artistic achieve- 
ments, the German film industry was of course anxious to experiment 
in the field of aesthetically qualified entertainment.^ Art assured ex- 
port, and export meant salvation. An ardent partisan of this doc- 
trine, Pommer had moreover an incomparable flair for cinematic 
values and popular demands. Regardless of whether he grasped the 
significance of the strange story Mayer and Janowitz submitted to 
him, he certainly sensed its timely atmosphere and interesting scenic 
potentialities. He was a born promoter who handled screen and 
business affairs with equal facility, and, above all, excelled in stimu- 
lating the creative energies of directors and players. In 1923, Ufa 
was to make him chief of its entire production.^ His behind-the-scenes 
activities were to leave their imprint on the pre-Hitler screen. 

Pommer assigned Fritz Lang to direct Caligari, but in the 
middle of the preliminary discussions Lang was ordered to finish his 
serial The Spiders; the distributors of this film urged its comple- 
tion.* Lang's successor was Dr. Robert Wiene. Since his father, a 

* Vincent, Eistoire de VArt Cin4matographiqu6, p. 140. 

3 Jahrbuoh der FUmindmtrie, 1922/8, pp. 86, 46. For an appraisal of Pommer, see 
Lejeune, Cinema, pp. 125-81. 

* Information offered by Mr. Lang. Cf. p. 66, 



once-famous Dresden actor, had become slightly insane towards the 
end of his life, Wiene was not entirely unprepared to tackle the 
case of Dr. Caligari. He suggested, in complete harmony with what 
Lang had planned, an essential change of the original story — a 
change against which the two authors violently protested. But no 
one heeded them*^ 

The original story was an account of real horrors ; Wiene's ver- 
sion transforms that account into a chimera concocted and narrated 
by the mentally deranged Francis. To effect this transformation 
the body of the original story is put into a framing story which 
introduces Prancis as a madman. The film Caligari opens with the 
first of the two episodes composing the frame. Francis is shown 
sitting on a bench in the park of the lunatic asylum, listening to the 
confused babble of a fellow sufferer. Moving slowly, like an appari- 
tion, a female inmate of the asylum passes by: it is Jane. Francis 
says to his companion: "What I have experienced with her is still 
stranger than what you have encountered. I will tell it to you." ^ 
Fade-out. Then a view of Holstenwall fades in, and the original story 
unfolds, ending, as has been seen, with the identification of Caligari. 
After a new fade-out the second and final episode of the framing 
story begins. Francis, having finished the narration, follows his com- 
panion back to the asylum, where he mingles with a crowd of sad 
figures — ^among them Cesare, who absent-mindedly caresses a little 
flower. The director of the asylum, a mild and understanding-looking 
person, joins the crowd. Lost in the maze of his hallucinations, 
Francis takes the director for the nightmarish character he himself 
has created, and accuses this imaginary fiend of being a dangerous 
madman. He screams, he fights the attendants in a frenzy. The 
scene is switched over to a sickroom, with the director putting on 
hom-rimmed spectacles which immediately change his appearance : 
it seems to be Caligari who examines the exhausted Francis. After 
this he removes his spectacles and, all mildness, tells his assistants 
that Francis believes him to be Caligari. Now that he understands the 
case of his patient, the director concludes, he will be able to heal him. 
With this cheerful message the audience is dismissed. 

Janowitz and Mayer knew why they raged against the framing 
story: it perverted, if not reversed, their intrinsic intentions. While 

"Extracted from Mr. Janowitafs manuscript. See also Vincent, Bistoire de VArt 
ChUmatogra/phique, pp. 140, 14S^. 

•Film license, issued by Board of Censors, Berlin, 1921 and 1925 (Museum of 
Modern Art Library, clipping files) ; Film Society PrcgraimM, March 14, 1925. 



the original story exposed the madness inherent in authority, Wiene's 
Caligari glorified authority and convicted its antagonist of madness. 
A revolutionary film was thus turned into a conformist one — follow- 
ing the much-used pattern of declaring some normal but troublesome 
individual insane and sending him to a lunatic asylum. This change 
undoubtedly resulted not so much from Wiene's personal predilec- 
tions as from his instinctive submission to the necessities of the 
screen ; films, at least conunercial films, are forced to answer to mass 
desires. In its changed form Caligabi was no longer a product ex- 
pressing, at best, sentiments characteristic of the intelligentsia, but 
a film supposed equally to be in harmony with what the less educated 
felt and liked. 

If it holds true that during the postwar years most Germans 
eagerly tended to withdraw from a harsh outer world into the intan- 
gible reahn of the soul, Wiene's version was certainly more consistent 
with their attitude than the original story; for, by putting the 
original into a box, this version faithfully mirrored the general n 
treat into a shell. In Caligari (and several other films of the time) 
the device of a framing story was not only an aesthetic form, but also 
had symbolic content. Significantly, Wiene avoided mutilating the 
original story itself. Even though Caligari had become a conformist 
fihn, it preserved and emphasized this revolutionary story — ^as a 
madman's fantasy. Caligari's defeat now belonged among psycho- 
logical experiences. In this way Wiene's film does suggest that 
during their retreat into themselves the Germans were stirred to 
reconsider their traditional belief in authority. Down to the bulk of 
social democratic workers they refrained from revolutionary action ; 
yet at the same time a psychological revolution seems to have pre- 
pared itself in the depths of the collective soul. The film reflects this 
double aspect of German life by coupling a reality in which Cali- 
gari's authority triumphs with a hallucination in which the same 
authority is overthrown. There could be no better configuration of 
symbols for that uprising against the authoritarian dispositions 
which apparently occurred under the cover of a behavior rejecting 

Janowitz suggested that the settings for Caxigam be designed by 
the painter and illustrator Alfred Kubin, who, a forerunner of the 
surrealists, made eerie phantoms invade harmless scenery and 
visions of torture emerge from the subconscious. Wiene took to the 



idea of painted canvases, but preferred to Kubin three expressionist 
artists: Hermann Warm, Walter Rohrig and Walter Reimann. 
They were affiliated with the Berlin Sturm group, which, through 
Herwarth Walden's magazine Stwrrrii promoted expressionism in 
every field of art.'' 

Although expressionist painting and literature had evolved years 
before the war, they acquired a public only after 1918. In this 
respect the case of Germany somewhat resembled that of Soviet 
Russia where, during the short period of war communism, diverse 
currents of aljstract art enjoyed a veritable heyday.^ To a revolu- 
tionized people expressionism seemed to combine the denial of bour- 
geois traditions with faith in man's power freely to shape society and 
nature. On account of such virtues it may have cast a spell over many 
Germans upset by the breakdown of their universe.® 

"Films must be drawings brought to life": this was Hermann 
Warm's formula at the time that he and his two fellow designers were 
constructing the CAiiiGARi world.^° In accordance with his beliefs, the 
canvases and draperies of Caligari abounded in complexes of 

■'Mr. Janowitz's manuscript; Vincent, Biatoire de I* Art OinSvMtogra/pMque, p. 
144; Rotha, Fihn Till Now, p. 43. 
8 Kurtz, Bx'preaaionisnwa, p. 61. 

»In Berlin, immediately after the war, Karl Heinz Martin staged two little 
dramas by Ernst Toller and Walter Hasenclever within expressionist settings. Cf. 
Kurtz, ibid., p. 48; Vincent, Eistoire de VArt Cin4matographique, pp. 142-48; 
Schapiro, "Nature of Abstract Art," Mandst Quarterly, Jan^March 1987, p. 97. 

10 Quotation from Kurtz, Expressionismua, p. 66. Warm's views, which implied a 
verdict on films as photographed reality, harmonized with those of Viking Eggeling, 
an abstract Swedish painter living in Germany. Having eliminated all objects from his 
canvases, Eggeling deemed it logical to involve the surviving geometrical compositions 
in rhythmic movements. He and his painter friend Hans Richter submitted this idea 
to Ufa, and Ufa, guided as ever by the maxim that art is good business or, at least, 
good propaganda, enabled the two artists to go ahead with their experiments. The first 
abstract films appeared in 1921. While Eggeling— he died in 1925— orchestrated spiral 
Imes and comblike figures in a short he called Diagom-al Symphony, Bichlcr composed 
his Rhythm 21 of squares in black, gray and white. One year later, Walter Ruttmann, 
also a painter, jomed in the trend with Opits I, which was a dynamic display of spots 
vaguely recalling X-ray photographs. As the titles reveal, the authors themselves con- 
sidered their products a sort of optical music It was a music that, whatever else it 
tried to impart, marked an utter withdrawal from the outer world. This esoteric avant- 
garde movement soon spread over other countries. From about 1924, such advanced 
French artists as Fernand L^ger and Ren^ Clair made films which, less abstract than 
the German ones, showed an affinity for the formal beauty of machine parts, and molded 
all kinds of objects and motions into surrealistic dreams. — I feel indebted to Mr. 
Hans Richter for having permitted me to use his unpublished manuscript, "Avantgarde, 
History and Dates of the Only Independent Artistic Film Movement, 1921-1981.'' See 
also Film Society Programme, Oct. 16, 1927 ; Kurtz, Exfresaioniamus , pp. 86, 94; Vin- 
cent, Hiatoire de VArt Qirdmaiogra/phique, pp. 159-61; Man Ray, "Answer to a Ques- 
tionnaire," Film Arty no. 7, 198G, p. 9; Kraszna-Krausz, "Exhibition in Stuttgart, June 
1929, and Its Effects," Oloie Cp, Dec. 1929, pp. 461-62. 



jagged, sharp-pointed forms strongly reminiscent of gothic pat- 
terns. Products of a style which by then had become ahnost a 
mannerism, these complexes suggested houses, walls, landscapes. Ex- 
cept for a few slips or concessions — some backgrounds opposed the 
pictorial convention in too direct a manner, while others all but pre- 
served them — ^the settings amounted to a perfect transformation of 
material objects into emotional ornaments. With its oblique chimneys 
on pell-mell roofs, its windows in the form of arrows or kites and its 
treelike arabesques that were threats rather than trees, Holstenwall 
resembled those visions of unheard-of cities which the painter Lyonel 
Feininger evoked through his edgy, crystalline compositions.^^ In 
addition, the ornamental system in CAi^iGAiti expanded through 
space, annuling its conventional aspect by means of painted shadows 
in disharmony with the lighting effects, and zigzag delineations 
designed to efface all rules of perspective. Space now dwindled to a 
flat plane, now augmented its dimensions to become what one writer 
called a "stereoscopic universe." 

Lettering was introduced as an essential element of the settings — 
appropriately enough, considering the close relationship between let- 
tering and drawing. In one scene the mad psychiatrist's desire to 
imitate Caligari materiahzes in jittery characters composing the 
words "I must become Caligari" — ^words that loom before his eyes 
on the road, in the clouds, in the treetops. The incorporation of 
human beings and their movements into the texture of these sur- 
roundings was tremendously difficult. Of all the players only the two 
protagonists seemed actually to be created by a draf tman's imagina- 
tion. Werner Krauss as Caligari had the appearance of a phantom 
magician himself weaving the Hues and shades through which he 

Mr. Feininger wrote to me about his relation to Caugaei on Sept. 18, 1944: 
**Thank you for your . . . letter of Sept 8. But if there has been anything I never had 
a part in nor the slightest knowledge of at the time, it is the film Caugaki. I have never 
even seen the film. ... I never met nor knew the artists you name [Warm, RShrig and 
Reimann] who devised the settings. Some time about 1911 1 made, for my own edifica- 
tion, a series of drawings which I entitled: 'Die Stadt am Ende der Welt' Some of 
these drawings were printed, some were exhibited. Later, after the birth of Cauoasx, 
I was frequently asked whether I had had a hand in its devising. This is all I can tell 
you. . . 

12 Cited by Carter, The New Spirit, p. 260, from H. G. SchefFauer, The New Spirit 
in the German Arta.-^For the Caugaei d^cor, see also Kurtz, BxpresaionAsmm, p. 66; 
Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 46; Jahier, "42 Ans de Cinema," Le B6le intelUctuel du 
Cin4ma, pp. 60-61; "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," Exceptional Photoplays, March 
1921, p. 4; Amiguet, Gvn4mal Cinimal, p. 60. For the beginnings of Werner Krauss 
and Conrad Veidt, see Kalbus, Deviiche FUmkmat, I, 28, 30, and Veidt, "Mein 
Leben," UforMagcam, Jan. 14-20, 1927. 


paced, and when Conrad Veidt's Cesare prowled along a wall, it was 
as if the wall had exuded him [lUus. 3]. The figure of an old dwarf 
and the crowd's antiquated costumes helped to remove the throng on 
the fair's tent-street from reality and make it share the bizarre life of 
abstract forms. 

If Decla had chosen to leave the original story of Mayer and 
Janowitz as it was, these "drawings brought to life" would have told 
it perfectly. As expressionist abstractions they were animated by 
the same revolutionary spirit that impelled the two scriptwriters 
to accuse authority — ^the kind of authority revered in Germany — 
of inhuman excesses. However, Wiene's version disavowed this rev- 
olutionary meaning of expressionist staging, or, at least, put it, like 
the original story itself, in brackets. In the fihn Caligam expression- 
ism seems to be nothing more than the adequate translation of a 
madman's fantasy into pictorial terms. This was how many contem- 
porary German reviewers understood, and relished, the settings and 
gestures. One of the critics stated with self-assured ignorance: "The 
idea of rendering the notions of sick brains . . . through expres- 
sionist pictures is not only well conceived but also well realized. 
Here this style has a right to exist, proves an outcome of solid 
logic." ^8 

In their triumph the philistines overlooked one significant fact: 
even though Caligari stigmatized the oblique chimneys as crazy, it 
never restored the perpendicular ones as the normal. Expressionist 
ornaments also overrun the film's concluding episode, in which, from 
the philistines' viewpoint, perpendiculars should have been expected 
to characterize the revival of conventional reality. In consequence, 
the Caligaei style was as far from depicting madness as it was from 
transmitting revolutionary messages. What function did it really 

During the postwar years expressionism was frequently con- 
sidered a shaping of primitive sensations and experiences. G^rhart 
Hauptmann's brother Carl — a distinguished writer and poet with ex- 
pressionist inclinations — adopted this definition, and then asked how 
the spontaneous manifestations of a profoundly agitated soul might 
best be formulated. While modern language, he contended, is too 
perverted to serve this purpose, the film — or the bioscop, as he termed 
it — offers a unique opportunity to externalize the fermentation of 
inner life. Of course, he said, the bioscop must feature only those 
Review In 8 UAr Abendblatt, cited In CaUgwrirffeft, p. 8. 



gestures of things and of human beings which are truly soul- 

Carl Hauptmann's views elucidate the expressionist style of 
Caligari. It had the function of characterizing the phenomena on 
the screen as phenomena of the soul — a function which overshadowed 
its revolutionary meaning. By making the film an outward projec- 
tion of psychological events, expressionist staging symbolized — 
much more strikingly than did the device of a framing story — ^that 
general retreat into a shell which occurred in postwar Germany. It is 
not accidental that, as long as this collective process was effective, 
odd gestures and settings in an expressionist or similar style marked 
many a conspicuous film. Variett, of 1925, showed the final traces 
of them.^" Owing to their stereotyped character, these settings and 
gestures were like some familiar street sign — ^''Men at Work," 
for instance. Only here the lettering was different. The sign read: 
"Soul at Work." 

After a thorough propaganda campaign culminating in the puz- 
zling poster "You must become Caligari," Decla released the fihn in 
February 1920 in the Berlin Marmorhaus.^^ Among the press re- 
views — ^they were unanimous in praising Caligabi as the first work 
of art on the screen — that of Vorwdrts^ the leading Social Democra- 
tic Party organ, distinguished itself by utter absurdity- It commented 
upon the film's final scene, in which the director of the asylum 
promises to heal Francis, with the words : "This film is also morally 
invulnerable inasmuch as it evokes sympathy for the mentally dis- 
eased, and comprehension for the self-sacrificing activity of the 
psychiatrists and attendants." ^'^ Instead of recognizing that Francis' 
attack against an odious authority harmonized with the Party's own 
antiauthoritarian doctrine, Vorwdrts preferred to pass off authority 
itself as a paragon of progressive virtues. It was always the same 
psychological mechanism : the rationalized middle-class propensities 
of the Social Democrats interfering with their rational socialist de- 
signs. While the Germans were too close to Caligari to appraise its 
symptomatic value, the French realized that this film was more than 
just an exceptional film. They coined the term ''CcHigarisme'' and 

" Carl Hauptmann, "Film und Theater," Der FUm von Morgen, p. 20. See also 
Alten, "Die Kunst in Deutschland," Ganymed, 1920, p. 146; Kurtz, ExpressioniaTnM, 
p. 14. 

i« Cf. p. 127. 

i« Jahrhuch der FiUninduBtrie, 1922/8, p. 81. 
1'' Quoted from OaKffarirHeft, p. 28. 



applied it to a postwar world seemingly all upside down ; which, at 
any rate, proves that they sensed the film's bearing on the structure 
of society. The New York premiere of Caligari, in April 1921, 
firmly established its world fame. But apart from giving rise to stray 
imitations and serving as a yardstick for artistic endeavors, this 
"most widely discussed film of the time" never seriously influenced 
the course of the American or French cinema." It stood out lonely, 
like a monolith. 

Caligari shows the "Soul at Work." On what adventures does 
the revolutionized soul embark? The narrative and pictorial elements 
of the film gravitate towards two opposite poles. One can be labeled 
"Authority," or, more explicitly, "Tyranny." The theme of tyranny, 
with which the authors were obsessed, pervades the screen from begin- 
ning to end. Swivel-chairs of enormous height symboHze the superior- 
ity of the city officials turning on them, and, similarly, the gigantic 
back of the chair in Alan's attic testifies to the invisible presence of 
powers that have their grip on him. Staircases reinforce the effect of 
the furniture: numerous steps ascend to poKce headquarters, and in 
the lunatic asylum itself no less than three parallel flights of stairs 
are called upon to mark Dr. Caligari's position at the top of the hier- 
archy [Illus. 4]. That the film succeeds in picturing him as a tyrant 
figure of the stamp of Homunculus and Lubitsch's Henry VIII is 
substantiated by a most illuminating statement in Joseph Freeman's 
novel, Never Call Retreat, Its hero, a Viennese professor of his- 
tory, tells of his life in a German concentration camp where, after 
being tortured, he is thrown into a cell: "Lying alone in that cell, 
I thought of Dr. Caligari; then, without transition, of the Em- 
peror Valentinian, master of the Roman world, who took great de- 
light in imposing the death sentence for slight or imaginary offenses. 
This Caesar's favorite expressions were : ^Strike oif his head !' — *Burn 
him alive!' — ^^Let him be beaten with clubs till he expires !' I thought 
what a genuine twentieth century ruler the emperor was, and 
promptly fell asleep." This dreamlike reasoning penetrates Dr. 
Caligari to the core by conceiving him as a counterpart of Valen- 
tinian and a premonition of Hitler. Caligari is a very specific premo- 
nition in the sense that he uses hypnotic power to force his will upon 
his tool — a technique foreshadowing, in content and purpose, that 

*® Quotation from Jacobs, American FiZm, p. 808; see also pp. 80M. 
" Freeman, Never Qall Itetreat, p. 528, 



manipulation of the soul which Hitler was the first to practice on a 
gigantic scale. Even though, at the time of CAxiaARi, the motif of the 
masterful hypnotizer was not unknown on the screen — ^it played a 
prominent role in the American film Trilby, shown in Berlin during 
the war — ^nothing in their environment invited the two authors to 
feature it,'*^ They must have been driven by one of those dark im- 
pulses which, stemming from the slowly moving foundations of a 
people's life, sometimes engender true visions. 

One should expect the pole opposing that of tyranny to be the 
pole of freedom; for it was doubtless their love of freedom which 
made Janowitz and Mayer disclose the nature of tyranny. Now this 
counterpole is the rallying-point of elements pertaining to the fair 
— ^the fair with its rows of tents, its confused crowds besieging them, 
and its diversity of thrilling amusements. Here Francis and Alan 
happily join the swarm of onlookers; here, on the scene of his tri- 
umphs. Dr. Caligari is finally trapped. In their attempts to define 
the character of a fair, literary sources repeatedly evoke the memory 
of Babel and Babylon alike. A seventeenth century pamphlet de- 
scribes the noise typical of a fair as "such a distracted noise that you 
would think Babel not comparable to it," and, almost two hundred 
years later, a young English poet feels enthusiastic about "that 
Babylon of booths — ^the Fair." The manner in which such Biblical 
images insert themselves unmistakably characterizes tiie fair as an 
enclave of anarchy in the sphere of entertainment. This accounts for 
its eternal attractiveness. People of all classes and ages enjoy losing 
themselves in a wilderness of glaring colors and shrill sounds, which 
is populated with monsters and abounding in bodily sensations — 
from violent shocks to tastes of incredible sweetness. For adults it is 
a regression into childhood days, in which games and serious affairs 
are identical, real and imagined things mingle, and anarchical desires 
aimlessly test infinite possibilities. By means of this regression the 
adult escapes a civilization which tends to overgrow and starve out 
the chaos of instincts — escapes it to restore that chaos upon which 
civilization nevertheless rests. The fair is not freedom, but anarchy 
entailing chaos. 

Significantly, most fair scenes in Caligari open with a small iris- 
in exhibiting an organ-grinder whose arm constantly rotates, and, 
behind him, the top of a merry-go-round which never ceases its cir- 

Kalbiis, DeuUche FUmkunst, I, 95. 
«i McKechnie, Popular Entertainm^nU, pp. 88, 47. 


cular niovement.22 The circle here becomes a symbol of chaos. While 
freedom resembles a river, chaos resembles a whirlpool. Forgetful of 
self 5 one may plunge into chaos ; one cannot jnove on in it. That the 
two authors selected a fair with its liberties as contrast to the oppres- 
sions of Caligari betrays the flaw in their revolutionary aspirations. 
Much as they longed for freedom, they were apparently incapable 
of imagining its contours. There is something Bohemian in their 
conception; it seems the product of naive idealism rather than true 
insight. But it might be said that the fair faithfully reflected the 
chaotic condition of postwar Germany. 

Whether intentionally or not, Caligari exposes the soul wavering 
between tyranny and chaos, and facing a desperate situation: any 
escape from tyranny seems to throw it into a state of utter confusion. 
Quite logically, the film spreads an all-pervading atmosphere of 
horror. Like the Nazi world, that of Caligari overflows with sinister 
portents, acts of terror and outbursts of panic. The equation of 
horror and hopelessness comes to a climax in the final episode which 
pretends to re-establish normal life. Except for the ambiguous figure 
of the director and the shadowy members of his staff, normality 
realizes itself through the crowd of insane moving in their bizarre 
surroundings. The normal as a madhouse: frustration could not be 
pictured more finally. And in this film, as well as in Homuncultjs, is 
unleashed a strong sadism and an appetite for destruction.^^ The 
reappearance of these traits on the screen once more testifies to their 
prominence in the German collective soul. 

Technical peculiarities betray peculiarities of meaning. In Cali- 
gari methods begin to assert themselves which belong among the 
special properties of German film technique. Caligari initiates a 
long procession of 100 per cent studio-made fihns. Whereas, for in- 
stance, the Swedes at that time went to great pains to capture the 
actual appearance of a snowstorm or a wood, the German directors, 
at least until 1924}, were so infatuated with indoor effects that they 
built up whole landscapes within the studio walls. They preferred 
the command of an artificial universe to dependence upon a hap- 
hazard outer world. Their withdrawal into the studio was part of 

M Rotha, Fihn TUl Nov), p. 285. For the role of fairs in films, sec E. W. and 
M. M. Robson, The FUm Answers Back, pp. 196-^7.— An iris-ln is a technical term for 
opening up the scene from a small circle of light in a dark screen until the whole frame 
is revealed. 

«Cf. p. 88. 



the general retreat into a shell. Once the Germans had determined 
to seek shelter within the soul, they could not well allow the screen 
to explore that very reality which they abandoned. This explains the 
conspicuous role of architecture after Caligari — a role that has 
struck many an observer. "It is of the utmost importance," Paul 
Rotha remarks in a survey of the postwar period, "to grasp the 
significant part played by the architect in the development of the 
German cinema." How could it be otherwise.? The architect's 
fafades and rooms were not merely backgrounds, but hieroglyphs. 
They expressed the structure of the soul in terms of space. 

Camgabi also mobilizes light. It is a lighting device which enables 
the spectators to watch the murder of Alan without seeing it ; what 
they see, on the wall of the student's attic, is the shadow of Cesare 
stabbing that of Alan. Such devices developed into a specialty of the 
German studios. Jean Cassou credits the Germans with having in- 
vented a **laboratory-made fairy illumination," and Harry Alan 
Potamkin considers the handling of the light in the German film its 
"major contribution to the cinema." This emphasis upon light can 
be traced to an experiment Max Reinhardt made on the stage shortly 
before Caxigari. In his mise-erirsc^ne of Sorge's prewar drama The 
Beggar {Der Settler) — one of the earliest and most vigorous mani- 
festations of expressionism — ^he substituted for normal settings 
imaginary ones created by means of lighting effects.^ Reinhardt 
doubtless introduced these effects to be true to the drama's style. The 
analogy to the films of the postwar period is obvious: it was their 
expressionist nature which impelled many a German director of 
photography to breed shadows as rampant as weeds and associate 
ethereal phantoms with strangely lit arabesques or faces. These ef- 
forts were designed to bathe all scenery in an unearthly illumination 
marking it as scenery of the soul. '*Light has breathed soul into the 
expressionist films," Rudolph Kurtz states in his book on the ex- 
pressionist cinema.^® Exactly the reverse holds true: in those films the 
soul was the virtual source of the light. The task of switching on this 
inner illmnination was somewhat facilitated by powerful romantic 

a* Rotha, Film TiU Now, p. 180. Cf. Potamkin, "Kino and Lichtspiel," Close Up, 
Nov. 1929, p. 887. 

aft Cited in Leprohon, "Le Cindma Allemand," Le Rouge et le Noir, July 1928, p. 


a« Potamkin, **The Rise and Fall of the German Film,** Cinema, April 1980, p. 24. 
a? KurtK, Eaprei»ioni»mu», p. 59. 
a»76»a., p. 60. 



The attempt made in Caligaki to co-ordinate settings, players, 
lighting and action is symptomatic of the sense of structural organ- 
ization which, from this film on, manifests itself on the German 
screen. Rotha coins the term "studio constructivism" to characterize 
"that curious air of completeness, of finality, that surrounds each 
product of the German studios." But organizational completeness 
can be achieved only if the material to be organized does not object 
to it. (The ability of the Germans to organize themselves owes much 
to their longing for submission.) Since reality is essentially incalcu- 
lable and therefore demands to be observed rather than commanded, 
realism on the screen and total organization exclude each other. 
Through their "studio constructivism" no less than their lighting 
the German films revealed that they dealt with unreal events dis- 
played in a sphere basically controllable.*^ 

In the course of a visit to Paris about six years after the premiere 
of Caligabi, Janowitz called on Count Etienne de Beaumont in 
his old city residence, where he lived among Louis Seize furniture 
and Picassos. The Count voiced his admiration of Cajlioabi, terming 
it "as fascinating and abstruse as the German soul." He continued: 
"Now the time has come for the German soul to speak, Monsieur. 
The French soul spoke more than a century ago, in the Revolution, 
and' you have been mute. . . . Now we are waiting for what you 
have to impart to us, to the world." 

The Count did not have long to wait. 

a» Rotha, Film Till Now, pp. 107-8. Cf . Potamkin, "Kino and Lichtspiel," Clot^ 
Up, Nov. 1929, p. 888, and "The Rise and FaU of the German Film," Cinenui, April 
1980, p. 24. 

so Film connoisseurs have repeatedly criticized Cauoaei for being a stage imita- 
tion. This aspect of the film partly results from its genuinely theatrical action. It 
is action of a well-constructed dramatic conflict in stationary surroundings — action 
which does not depend upon screen representation for significance. Like Cauoari, 
all "indoor" films of the postwar period showed a:ffinity for the stage in that they 
favored inner-life dramas at the expense of conflicts involving outer reality. How- 
ever, this did not necessarily prevent them from growing into true films. When, in the 
wake of Cauoaiii, film technique steadily progressed, the psychological screen dramas 
increasingly exhibited an imagery that elaborated the significance of their action. 
Caugahi's theatrical affinity was also due to technical backwardness. An immovable 
camera focused upon the painted d^cor; no cutting device added a meaning of its own 
to that of the pictures. One should, of course, not forget the reciprocal influence 
Caligabi and kindred films exerted, for their part, on the German stage. Stimulated 
by the use they made of the iris-in, stage lighting took to singling out a lone player, 
or some important sector of the scene. Cf. Barry, Program Notes, Series III, pro- 
gram 1; Gregor, Zeitalter dss Films, pp. 184, 144-46; Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 276 j 
Vincent^ Bistoire cU VArt CinSmatographiqite, p. 189. 

31 From Janowitz'a manuscript. 


Caligari was too high-brow to become popular in Germany. How- 
ever, its basic theme — ^the soul being faced with the seemingly un- 
avoidable alternative of tyranny or chaos — exerted extraordinary 
fascination. Between 1920 and 1924, numerous German films insist- 
ently resumed this theme, elaborating it in various fashions. 

One group specialized in the depiction of tyrants. In this film 
type, the Germans of the time — ^a people still unbalanced, still free to 
choose its regime — ^nursed no illusions about the possible conse- 
quences of tyranny; on the contrary, they indulged in detailing its 
crimes and the sufferings it inflicted. Was their imagination kindled 
by the fear of bolshevism? Or did they call upon these frightfiol 
visions to exorcise lusts which, they sensed, were their own and now 
threatened to possess them.? (It is, at any rate, a strange coincidence 
that, hardly more than a decade later, Nazi Germany was to put into 
practice that very mixture of physical and mental tortures which the 
German screen then pictured.) 

Among the films of this first group, Nosperatu, released in 1922, 
enjoyed particular fame for initiating the fashion of screen vam- 
pires. The film was an adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel Dracvla, 
but Henrik Galeen, the script writer, managed to impregnate it with 
ideas of his own. 

A real estate agent in Bremen sends his recently married clerk to 
Nosferatu, who, living far away in the Carpathian woods, wants to 
settle some business matter. The clerk's travel across these woods — 
macabre with mists, shying horses, wolves and eerie birds — ^proves 
but an innocent prelude to the adventures awaiting him in Nosferatu's 
castle. The day after his arrival he wanders, in search of his host, 
through abandoned rooms and cellars, and eventually discovers Nos- 
feratu lying in a sarcophagus — like a corpse with eyes wide open in a 
ghastly face. Nosferatu is a vampire, and vampires sleep by day. By 
night the monster approaches the slumbering clerk to suck his blood. 




At this very moment Nina, the clerVs wife, awakens in Bremen with 
the name of her hushand on her lips, whereupon Nosferatu with- 
draws from his victim. It was Galeen's idea to demonstrate through 
this telepathic phenomenon the supernatural power of love. After the 
clerk's escape, the vampire, who comes to appear more and more as 
an incarnation of pestilence, leaves his castle to hannt the world. 
Wherever he emerges, rats swarm out and people fall dead. He goes 
aboard a sailing ship: the crew dies, and the ship continues cut- 
ting the waves on its own. Finally Nosferatu makes his entrance 
in Bremen and there meets Nina — ^in an episode which symbolizes 
Galeen's credo that the deadly evils for which Nosferatu stands can- 
not defeat those who encounter them fearlessly. Instead of fleeing 
the vampire's presence, Nina, her arms extended, welcomes him into 
her room. As she does so, a supreme miracle occurs : the sun breaks 
through, and the vampire dissolves into thin air ^ [Illus. 5]. 

P. W. Murnau, who directed Nosferatit, had already a few 
films to his credit — among them Jantjskopf (Janxts-Faced, 1920), 
a version of Dr. JeTcyll and Mr. Hyde; Schloss Vogelod (Vogelod 
Castle, 1921 ) , a crime picture visibly influenced by the Swedes ; and 
the realistic farm drama Brennender Acker (Burnewg Soil, 
1922) , in which he is said to have furthered the action through sus- 
tained close shots of facial expressions. In Vogelod Castle, too, he 
knowingly used faces to reveal emotional undercurrents and orches- 
trate suspense. This early fihn moreover testified to Mumau's unique 
faculty of obliterating the boundaries between the real and the 
unreal. Reality in his films was surrounded by a halo of dreams and 
presentiments, and a tangible person might suddenly impress the 
audience as a mere apparition.^ 

Bela Balazs, a German film writer of Hungarian descent, wrote 
in 1924 that it was as if ^*a chilly draft from doomsday" passed 
through the scenes of Nosferatu.^ To obtain this effect Murnau 
and his cameraman, Fritz Arno Wagner, used all kinds of tricks. 
Strips of negative fihn presented the Carpathian woods as a maze 
of ghostlike white trees set against a black sky ; shots taken in the 

* Based on information offered by Mr. Galcen, who also permitted me to use the 
manuscript of his lecture on the fantastic filra. Cf. FUm Sodety Programmef Dec. 16, 
Dreyfus, "Films d'^ouvante," Revue dw. OinSma, May 1, 1980, p. 29; Vincent, 
Hiatoire de PArt CinSmatofftaphifuef p. 151. 

a Vincent, ^6tU, p. 151; "Auch Murnau . . FUmwelt, March 22, 1981; **Dcr 
Regisseur F, W. Murnau," Ufa-Magastin, Oct. 15-21, 192Q; Kalbus, Deutsche Fitm- 
hanstf If 58. 

3 BaMzs, J>er tiohthare Mentok, p. 108.. 



"one-turn-one-picture" manner transformed the clerk's coach into a 
phantom vehicle uncannily moving along by jerks. The most impres- 
sive episode was that in which the spectral ship glided with its terrible 
freight over phosphorescent waters. It is noteworthy that such an 
amount of picture sense and technical ingenuity served the sole pur- 
pose of rendering horrors. Of course, film sensations of this kind are 
short-lived; at the end of 1928, the Fihn Society in London revived 
the film with the remark that it "combined the ridiculous and the 
horrid." * 

When speaking of Nosfeeatu, the critics, even more than in the 
case of Caligari, insisted upon bringing in E. T. A. Hoffmann.^ 
However, this reference to the film's romantic antecedents does not 
account for its specific meaning. The horrors Nosferatu spreads are 
caused by a vampire identified with pestilence. Does he embody the 
pestilence, or is its image evoked to characterize him? If he were 
simply the embodiment of destructive nature, Nina's interference 
with his activities would be nothing more than magic, meaningless 
in this context. Like Attila, Nosferatu is a "scourge of God," and 
only as such identifiable with the pestilence. He is a blood-thirsty, 
blood-sucking tyrant figure looming in those regions where myths 
and fairy tales meet. It is highly significant that during this period 
German imagination, regardless of its starting-point, always gravi- 
tated towards such figures — as if under the compulsion of hate-love. 
The conception that great love might force tyranny into retreat, 
symbolized by Nina's triumph over Nosferatu, wiU be discussed 

Vanina, also released in 1922, dwelt upon the psychological 
causes and effects of tyranny. Carl Mayer, who fashioned the script 
after Stendhal's story Yanma Vanmiy termed the film a "ballad." 
The Germans had then a penchant for ballads and legends, which, 
because of their unreal character, were as timely as the expressionist 
films proper. This predilection for an imagined world was early 
recognized and praised as a German feature. "The strength of the 
German film lies in the fantastic drama," the program-magazine of 
the Ufa theaters contended in 1921, lest its readers worry about the 

* Film Society Profframme, Dec. 16, 1928. See also Rotha, Film Till Now, pp. 197, 
276; Oswell Blakeston, "Comment and Review," Olo»e Up, Jan. 1929, pp. 71-72. 

''Vincent, Sistoire de VArt OnSmatographique, p. 151; Canudo, L'Usine am 
Images, p. 188. 

6 Cf. pp. 90, 109. 



superiority of the Americans, Italians and Swedes in other depart- 
ments of screen entertainments 

Vanina is the daughter of a royalist governor who wields his 
power so tyrannically that the people, exasperated, rebel against him 
and storm his feudal palace. The governor is a cripple, walking with 
crutches: this bodily defect makes him a counterpart of Homun- 
culus. Like Homunculus, he is a tyrant whose sadism appears to stem 
from a basic inferiority complex. If this explanation of tyranny 
had not touched something in the Germans, it would hardly have 
been resumed. The rebellion is crushed, and the governor imprisons 
Octavio, its leader, with whom Vanina has fallen in love. Surpris- 
ingly, she succeeds in persuading her father to free Octavio and 
arrange for their marriage. However, his apparent generosity turns 
out to be sadistic finesse. While the wedding is still going on, the 
governor orders Octavio to be thrown again into the dungeon and 
then hanged. Enraged by this perfidy, Vanina strikes her crippled 
father and extorts from him Octavio's pardon. She runs to the 
dungeon, fetches her lover and heads with him for the portal of the 
palace. But in the meantime the governor, too, moves along with his 
crutches. On the strength of his counterorder the young lovers are 
seized just as they reach the last gate that separates them from free- 
dom. Octavio, accompanied by Vanina, is dragged to the gallows, 
and the governor, convulsed with laughter, pronounces his death- 
sentence. Vanina drops dead; she cannot survive her lover.® 

Supported by such actors as Asta Nielsen and Paul Wegener, 
Ajrthur von Gerlach made this study in sadism into a film which 
emphasized certain emotional complexes rampant under a tyrannical 
regime. Conspicuous in that respect is the sequence of the lovers' 
flight from the dungeon. Instead of giving the impression of speed, 
this sequence shows the couple walking endlessly through endless 
corridors. It is an escape in slow motion. Whereas an American re- 
viewer complained of these boring "miles of passages,"^ Bfla 
Baldzs, who was more familiar with the climate of the film, considered 
each new passage a "mysterious and uncanny aspect of doom." ^® 
There is, at any rate, no doubt that the corridors are intended to be 

Quotation from Mfillhausen, **Der Aufstieg des Films," UforBldtter,— For film 
ballads and legends of the time, see Jahier, "42 Ans de Cinema," Le B6I0 tntellectuel 
du Cinema, p. 61 j Kalbus; Deutsche Filmkumt, I, 64, 66. 

* Ufa Verleih'Profframme, 1928, p. 18; Weinberg, ScrapbooJcs, 1928. 
® Weinberg, Scrapbooks, 1928. 
Baldzs, Der skhtbare Mensch, p. 184; see also p. 58. 



symbolic rather than realistic. Their uninterrupted succession, which 
is certainly not in the interest of suspense, delineates the dread of 
ever-impending punishment at the hand of a merciless tyrant. This 
dread decomposes the traditional hierarchy of feelings. The ter- 
rorized fugitives experience one moment as an eternity, and limited 
space as space beyond any limits. Hope drives them towards the 
portal, but panic, which under the reign of terror is inseparable from 
hope, transforms their route into a monotonous repetition of blind 

The third important tyrant film appearing in 1922 was Fritz 
Lang's Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Dr. Mabitse, the Gambler) , a 
screen version of a much-read novel by Norbert Jacques. Lang and 
his wife, Thea von Harbou, collaborated on the script, as was their 
custom. Their design was to portray contemporary life. Two years 
after the release of Dr. Mabuse, Lang himself called the film a docu- 
ment about the current world, and attributed its international suc- 
cess to its documentary virtues rather than to the many thrills it 
offered.-^^ Whether or not the filnn lived up to this claim. Dr. Mabuse, 
its main character, was a contemporary tyrant. His appearance 
proves that those remote tyrants of Nosferatu and Vanina also had 
topical significance. 

Dr. Mabuse's family likeness to Dr. Caligari cannot be over- 
looked. He, too, is an unscrupulous master-mind animated by the 
lust for unlimited power. This superman heads a gang of killers, 
blind counterfeiters and other criminals, and with their help terror- 
izes society — ^in particular the postwar multitude in search of easy 
pleasures. Proceeding scientifically. Dr. Mabuse hypnotizes his pre- 
sumptive victims — ^another resemblance to Dr. Caligari — ^and evades 
identification by impersonating diverse characters, such as a psychia- 
trist, a drunken sailor, a financial magnate. No one would even 
suspect his existence, if it were not for Dr. Wenk, the public prose- 

" Potamkin praised Vaihn-a for its fluidity. Cf. Potamkin, "Kino and Lichtspid," 
Close Up, Nov. 1929, p. 891, and "The Rise and Fall of the German Film," Cinema, 
April 1980, p. 26. — Similar tyrant films were Lttise Millerin (1922) and Petee der 
Grosse (Peter the Gbjeat, 1928). For the former, see Declct-Bioscop VerUih^Pro- 
grammet 1928, p. 84. For the latter: Zaddach, Der Uterarische FilTn, p. 60; Kalbus, 
DeuUche FUmkumt, I, 70; "Peter the Great," Exceptional Photoplays, Feb^March 
1924, pp. 1-2. 

12 Lang, "Kitsch— Sensation— Kultur imd Fihn," Kulturfilmhuch, p. 80. Accord- 
ing to Jahrbuch der PUminchstrie, 1922/8, p. 46, the film's London premifere was a big 



cutor, who is determined to track down the mystery man. Wenk has 
found an able helper in the degenerate Countess Told, while Mabuse 
relies on his mistress, Cara Carozza, a dancer slavishly devoted to 
him. A gigantic duel takes place : it is set against a background of 
swanky gambling haunts, and involves a considerable amount of 
violence and cunning. In its course Mabuse abducts the countess, 
with whom he has fallen in love, ruins her husband systematically, 
and orders the jailed Cara to poison herself, which she gladly does. 
It looks as if Mabuse is to triumph, for, after two unsuccessful 
attempts on Wenk's life, he finally hypnotizes him into a suicidal 
state : Wenk drives his car at high speed towards a perilous quarry. 
However, the police intervene in time, and, led by Wenk, storm 
Mabuse^s house, kill the members of the gang and free the countess. 
Where is Mabuse himself? Days afterwards, they find him, a 
raving maniac, in the secret cellar which served the blind counter- 
feiters as a workshop. Like Caligari, Mabuse has gone mad.^® 

Owing to its two parts, the film is of an extraordinary length — 
a dollar-dreadful rather than a penny-dreadful. Trash need not be 
untrue to life; on the contrary, life may culminate in heaps of trash, 
such as no writer could ever amass. However, instead of making Dr. 
Mabuse reflect familiar surroundings, Lang frequently stages the 
action in settings of pronounced artificiality. Now the scene is an 
expressionist club-room with painted shadows on the wall, now a dark 
back street through which Cesare might have slipped with Jane in 
his arms. Other decorative forms help these expressionist ones to 
mark the whole as an emotional vision. Dr. Mabuse belongs in the 
Caligari sphere [Dlus. 6]. It is by no means a documentary film, 
but it is a document of its time. 

The world it pictures has fallen prey to lawlessness and deprav- 
ity. A night-club dancer performs in a d^cor composed of outright 
sex symbols. Orgies are an institution, homosexuals and prostitute 
children are everyday characters. The anarchy smoldering in this 
world manifests itself clearly in the admirably handled episode of 
the police attack against Mabuse's house — ^an episode which through 
its imagery intentionally recalls the txunultuous postwar months with 
their street fights between Spartacus and the Noske troops. Circular 
ornaments emerge prominently time and again. Both the tricky floor 
in a new gambling club and the chain of hands formed during a 

*3 Program brochure to the film; Deola-Biotcop Verleih-Programme, 1928, pp. 



spiritualist stance are shown from above to impress their circular 
appearance upon the spectator. Here, as in the case of Cajligari, 
the circle denotes a state of chaos.^* 

The relation between Dr. Mabuse and this chaotic world is re- 
vealed by a shot to which Rudolf Arnheim has drawn attention. A 
small bright spot, Mabuse's face gleams out of the jet-black screen, 
then, with frightening speed, rushes to the foreground and fills the 
whole frame, his cruel, strong-willed eyes fastened upon the audi- 
ence.^** This shot characterizes Mabuse as a creature of darkness, 
devouring the world he overpowers. Much as Mabuse resembles 
Caligari, he surpasses him in that he continually changes his identity. 
Commenting upon this film, Lang once remarked that he was guided 
by the idea of rendering the whole of society, with Mabuse every- 
where present but nowhere recognizable. The fihn succeeds in making 
of Mabuse an omnipresent threat which cannot be localized, and thus 
reflects society under a tyrannical regime — ^that kind of society in 
which one fears everybody because anybody may be the tyrant's ear 
or arm. 

Throughout the fihn Mabuse is stigmatized as a man of genius 
who has become Public Enemy No. 1. The final scene depicts the 
outbreak of his madness in grandiose terms. Trapped in the cellar, 
Mabuse finds himself surrounded by all the persons he murdered — 
pale apparitions who urge him to join their company and cheat at 
cards. In the middle of the game the ghosts vanish ; whereupon the 
lonely Mabuse amuses himself by throwing scores of banknotes into 
the air. They flutter about, flow around him. In vain, he tries to fend 

them off. Then Wenk arrives Wenk himself is scarcely more than 

a smart representative of the law, a kind of legal gangster, with the 
poUce functioning as his gang. Unlike Francis, who pursues Caligari 
for strong and just reasons, Wenk is morally so indifferent that his 
triumph lacks significance. To be sure, Mabuse is wrecked ; but social 
depravity continues, and other Mabuses may follow. Here as well as 
in Caligari not the slightest allusion to true freedom interferes with 
the persistent alternative of tyranny or chaos. 

De. Mabxjse adds to Caligari only in one respect: it attempts to 
show how closely tyranny and chaos are interrelated. The program 
brochure Decla-Bioscop published on the occasion of the film's 
premifere describes the Mabuse world as follows: "Mankind, swept 

i*Cf. p. 74. 

i« Arnheim, Film aU Kuntt, p. 124. 



about and trampled down in the wake of war and revolution, takes 
revenge for years of anguish by indulging in lusts . . . and by 
passively or actively surrendering to crime." That is, chaos breeds 
tyrants like Mabuse who, for their part, capitalize on chaos. One 
should not overlook the seemingly harmless word "and" through 
which the prospectus chooses to connect the weighty terms * Var" and 
"revolution": this "and" throws a dazzling light on Dr. Mabuse's 
origin in the middle-class mind. 

To stress the film's documentary value the prospectus also states : 
"This Dr. Mabuse . . . was not possible in 1910 and, perhaps, will 
not be possible any more in 1930 — ^let us hope so, one should like to 
say. But with regard to the year 1920 he is a bigger-than-life por- 
trait. . . ." The hope for the future proved illusory. In 1932, Lang, 
in The Last Will op Dr. Mabuse,^'' resuscitated his supercriminal 
to mirror the obvious Mabuse traits of Hitler. Through this second 
Mabuse film the first one is revealed to be not so much a document as 
one of those deep-rooted premonitions which spread over the German 
postwar screen. 

The cycle of imaginary tyrant films came to a close with Das 
Wachsfigurenkabinett (Waxworks) . Released as late as Novem- 
ber 1924 — ^at a time when life was just beginning to look normal 
again — ^Waxworks marked the end of that period in which the 
harassed German mind retreated into a shell. The script was written 
by Henrik Galeen, who, in Nosferatu, had identified the tyrant with 
pestilence. He peopled the new film with no less than three tyrants, 
but reduced all of them to wax figures.^^ 

As in Caligari, the scene is a fair, with a booth in which these 
figures are exhibited. A starved young poet (William Dieterle) 
approaches the showman, who has advertised that he wants someone 
to write stories about the waxworks. The showman takes this promis- 
ing aspirant into the dark booth and slowly lights up one figure after 
another. Entranced by the sight of them, the poet sits down and 
writes and writes, with the showman's daughter sympathetically 
peeping over his shoulder. What he concocts emerges in the form 
of three successive episodes. The first, devoted to the figure of Harun- 

le "Vorwort," program brochure to the film. 
Cf. p. 248 ff. 

Vincent, Bistovre de VArt CinSmatoffraphique, p. 168; Film Society Progromme, 
Oct 26, 1926. Besides the three tyrant figures of the film, Galeen*s original script also 
included the figure of Rinaldo Rinaldini. 



al-Rashid (Emil Jannings), is an Oriental burlesque ridiculing the 
manner of tyrants. They make passes at every pretty woman; in a 
fit of temper they order innocent people beheaded, and a moment 
later magnanimously pardon unpardonable crimes. This burlesque — 
it displays Harun's dealings with a jealous pastry-cook and his 
coquettish wife — ^turns out to be a rather insignificant prelude to the 
following more serious variations on the same theme. 

The second episode animates the wax figure of Ivan the Terrible 
(Conrad Veidt), presenting him as an incarnation of insatiable lusts 
and unheard-of cruelties [Illus. 8]. Compared with him, the gover- 
nor in Vanina is somewhat unimaginative. Ivan not only derives 
pleasure from interrupting a wedding party to make the bride his 
mistress for a night, but also shows true ingenuity in combining 
mental and physical tortures. He places an hourglass before each of 
his poisoned victims, so that these unfortunates may anticipate the 
precise moment of their death, calculated to coincide with the run- 
ning-down of the last grain of sand. The Marquis de Sade would 
have liked that one. Owing to the machinations of a revengeful con- 
spirator, Ivan finally believes himself poisoned and moreover comes 
upon a sandglass labeled "Ivan." Horror-stricken, the tyrant turns 
it incessantly to postpone the end. His mind out of joint, he shares 
the fate of Mabuse and Caligari. 

In the third episode, the figure of Jack-the-Ripper (Werner 
Krauss) and the characters of the framing story are interlinked by 
means of a dream. Falling asleep from exhaustion, the poet dreams 
that, while he is taking a walk with the showman's daughter, J ack- 
the-Ripper appears and pursues them relentlessly. This is about all ; 
but chase and flight perfectly render the nightmarish character life 
assumes under any Ivan. To round out the framing story, the film 
concludes with the heartening intimation that the poet and the girl 
please each other. 

Waxworks was staged by Paul Leni, a former Reinhardt col- 
laborator and one of the outstanding film directors of the postwar 
era. He had a special gift for designing sets.^^ In the case of Wax- 
works, he developed a d^cor which, in its attempt to create a fan- 
tastic atmosphere, borrowed much from expressionism. The halo of 
unreality with which Leni surrounded the film's three episodes was 
the more appropriate as these episodes center around wax figures. 
Such figures usually counterfeit kings, murderers or heroes who 

1* For Leni, see Vincent, MistovrB de I'Art Cinimatogra/phique, p. 158. 



belong in the past — counterfeit them to permit contemporaries to 
enjoy the shudders of awe or fright they once aroused. Their waxen 
appearance in a fair booth characterizes Harun and Ivan as phan- 
toms that are remote in time as well as remote from reality. 

The three episodes seize upon types of tyrants haunting a bygone 
period. (Haunting also former films : Jack-the-Ripper originates in 
Caligabi, the Harun episode recalls Lubitsch's Sumurun, and Ivan 
is an offspring of both the Caligari and the Lubitsch sphere.^^) How- 
ever, since dreams as a rule bear on the dreamer's current plight, the 
dream character of the Jack-the-Ripper episode arouses the sus- 
picion that Jack and his confreres are not merely figures of the past, 
but tyrants still among us. 

Like the imagery of Mabuse, VANnsrA and similar films, that of 
Waxworks culminates in scenes which, exceeding their task of illus- 
trating the plot, penetrate the nature of tyrannical power. The in- 
sistence with which, during those years, pictorial imagination re- 
verted to this subject indicates that the problem of absolute authority 
was an intrinsic concern of the collective mind. One shot in the Ivan 
episode reveals the magic spell power radiates: Ivan appears in a 
folding-door, the portrait of a saint in life-size on each leaf, and as 
he stands there, vested with aU the insignia of his dignity, he seems 
a living icon between the two painted ones. Another picture unit of 
the same episode shows the bride whom Ivan wants to make his 
mistress looking through the iron bars of a window into the torture- 
chamber where her husband is undergoing terrible sufferings ; and 
the shot of her face, distorted with horror, is followed by a close-up 
of Ivan's well-groomed, ring-adorned hand clasping those iron 
bars. This unit foreshadows a device conmion to all Russian screen 
epics of the Revolution : they never tire of contrasting the degraded 
oppressed with the smug Czarist oppressor in such a way that the 
latter's appearance exemplifies the dreadful alliance between culture 
and atrocity. Here the Germans intuitively visualize an aspect of 
tyranny which the Russians, doubtless on the strength of experience, 
were to emphasize as a basic one. 

The most significant episode is that of Jack-the-Ripper — a very 
short sequence which must be counted among the greatest achieve- 

20 In their book. The Film Answers Back, p. 196, though questionable in both 
premises and conclusions, the English authors E. W. and M. M. Robson noted this 
point: "If it is permissible to describe the Caligari and the Lubitsch trends as thesis 
and antithesis in the early German film, we may say that Waasworks represents the 
synthesis of these two influences. . . 



ments of film art.^^ It evolves outside the waxworks, in the fair with 
which the audience has already been famiharized by the framing 
story. But what in the framing story was nothing more than a 
crowded pleasure spot is now a deserted hunting ground for specters. 
Expressionist canvases, ingenious lighting effects and many otlier 
devices at hand in 1924 have been used to create this eerie phantas- 
magoria, which substantiates more forcibly than the analogous decor 
in Caligari the notion of chaos. Disparate architectural fragments 
form pell-mell complexes, doors open of their own accord and all 
proportions and relations depart from the normal. Much as the 
episode recalls Caligari, it goes beyond its model in stressing the 
role of the fair : the fair that in Caligaki merely served as a back- 
ground is here the very scene of action. In the course of their flight, 
the poet and the girl hurry past the constantly circling merry-go- 
round, while Jack-the-Ripper himself, Caligari and Cesare in one, 
pursues them on miraculous dream paths, hovering through a gigan- 
tic Ferris wheel that also turns without pause. [Blus. 7] . Completing 
the kindred pictorial efforts of Dr. Mabtjse, these images symbolize 
the interpenetration of chaos and tyranny in a definite manner. 
Waxworks adds the final touch to the tyrant films proper. 

2* Barry, Program Notes, Series II, program 4; Kurtz, BeepressionisTnm, p. 80; 
Vincent, JSistoir4 de VArt Cin4matograpliique, p. 158 fP. 


In its attempt to reconsider the foundations of the self, German 
imagination did not confine itself to elaborating upon tyranny, but 
also inquired into what might happen if tyranny were rejected as a 
pattern of life. There seemed a sole alternative : for the world to turn 
into a chaos with all passions and instincts breaking loose. From 
1920 through 1924j — ^years in which the German screen never cham- 
pioned or even visualized the cause of liberty — ^films depicting the 
sway of unchecked instincts were as current as those devoted to 
tyrants. The Germans obviously held that they had no choice other 
than the cataclysm of anarchy or a tyrannical regime. Either possi- 
bility appeared pregnant with doom. In this plight contemporaneous 
imagination resorted to the ancient concept of Fate. Doom decreed 
by an inexorable Fate was not mere accident but a majestic event 
that stirred metaphysical shudders in sufferers and witnesses alike. 
As an outcome of superior necessity doom at least had grandeur. 
General susceptibility to this aspect is proved by the sweeping suc- 
cess of Spengler's The Decline of the West during that period. Even 
though many prominent German philosophers and scientists 
launched vigorous anathemas against the book, they were not able to 
weaken the overwhelming appeal of a vision that seemed to derive its 
timely prophecy of decline from laws inherent in history itself. This 
vision conformed to the emotional situation so perfectly that all 
counter-arguments sounded thin. 

The second group of films in the wake of Caligari is composed of 
two films by Fritz Lang, both playing up the role of Fate. Ber 
MxiDE Toj> (Destint) , the first of them, appeared in 1921, one year 
before Dr. Mabuse. Lang again wrote the script in collaboration 
with Thea von Harhou. After the release of the film, which in Ger- 
many is called The Tired Death, a sarcastic Berlin critic thought 
it fit to entitle his review "The Tiresome Death." However, when a 




little later the French praised the work for being truly German, the 
Germans also discovered its value, and what had at first looked like 
a failure developed into a complete victory on the home front.^ 

Part legend, part fairy tale, the romantically involved story 
starts with a girl and her young lover putting up at the inn of a 
small old town. An uncanny stranger joins them. According to a 
flashback, this man has long ago bought land bordering the nearby 
cemetery, and has surrounded it with a huge wall entirely bare of 
doors. In the inn, the girl pays a short visit to the kitchen ; when she 
returns, her lover has disappeared with the stranger. Terrified, she 
hurries to the huge wall, swoons there, and after a while is found by 
the town's old pharmacist, who takes her to his home. While he is 
preparing a tonic, the girl in her despair lifts a poison cup to her 
mouth. But before the liquid wets her Hps, she dreams a long dream, 
in which the huge wall re-emerges. This time there is a door in it, and 
behind the door an endless flight of stairs appears. At the top of the 
steps the stranger is waiting for the girl. As she wants her lover back 
from him, the stranger — ^he is the Angel of Death and as such the 
agent of Fate, if not Fate itself — Pleads her to a dark haU fiUed with 
burning candles, each representing a human soul. Her wish will be 
satisfied, he says, if she can prevent three flaring candle-lights from 
being extinguished. Now the authors utilize a compositional device 
later adopted in Waxworks: three longish episodes narrating the 
stories of these lights interrupt the course of the main action.^ The 
first episode is located in a Moslem city, the second in the Venice of 
the Renaissance, the third in a fantastic China. In all three episodes, 
as if passing through successive stages of the transmigration of 
souls, the girl and her lover are pursued by a jealous, greedy and 
cruel tyrant ; which, incidentally, makes these episodes resemble the 
Lubitsch pageants. Three times the girl tries to outwit the tyrant 
intent on killing her lover; three times the tyrant realizes his mur- 
derous design with the aid of Death, alias Fate, who in each case is 
incarnated in the executioner. . , . The three candle-lights die away, 
and again the girl implores the mercy of Death ; whereupon Death 
offers her a last chance: if she can bring him another life, he is 
willing to return that of her lover. Here the dream of a split second 
ends, with the pharmacist snatching the poison cup away from the 

^ Based on inforxnation offered by Mr. Lang himself. Cf. Zaddacfa, Der Uterariiche 
Filmy pp. 41-42. 
« Cf . p. 84. ff. 



girl's mouth. He intimates that he himself feels tired of life ; but when 
the girl asks him to sacrifice his life, he throws her out of his house. 
A weary beggar and several infirm old women in a hospital likewise 
refuse to make such a sacrifice. Fire breaks out in the hospital and 
after their flight the inmates learn that a baby has been left behind. 
Touched by the grief of the mother, the girl fights her way through 
the flames. At the very moment she seizes the baby. Death, keeping 
his promise, extends his arms to take this life. But the girl reneges ; 
instead of ransoming her lover, she hands the baby out of a window to 
the happy mother. Amidst the blaze in the crashing house Death 
finally guides the dying girl to her dead lover, and, forever united, 
their souls wander heavenward over a blossoming hill.^ 

This plot forces one point strongly upon the audience : that, how- 
ever arbitrary they seem, the actions of tyrants are realizations of 
Fate. The agent of Fate supports tyranny not only in all three 
episodes but also in the story proper. The death he inflicts upon the 
young lover appears so senseless that it is as if some unscrupulous 
tyrant had pulled the strings. There is an old fairy tale about a 
traveler startled by the misdeeds of his companion; this enigmatic 
fellow sets an inhabited house afire, obstructs justice and persistently 
returns evil for good. At the end he reveals himself as an angel and 
initiates the traveler into the true meaning of those apparent mis- 
deeds ; they were measures of Providence to protect the very people 
they wronged from future catastrophes. No such paradoxical mean- 
ing can be read into the shocking actions of Pate in Destiny. The 
film ends with the girl's self-renunciation accompanied by a caption 
tliat emphasizes its religious significance : "He who loses his life gains 
it." This sacrifice conveys about the same message as Nina's final • 
surrender in Nosfbrattt.'* 

The long-lived power of Destiny's imagery is the more amazing 
as all had to be done with the immovable, hand-cranked camera, and 
night shots were still impossible. These pictorial visions are so precise 
that they sometimes evoke the illusion of being intrinsically real. A 
"drawing brought to life," the Venetian episode resuscitates genuine 
Renaissance spirit through such scenes as the carnival procession — 
silhouettes staggering over a bridge — and the splendid cockfight 
radiating bright and cruel Southern passion in the mode of Stendhal 

» Vincent, JECistoire de VArt Cinimatogro/pliiguet p. 147; Weinberg, 
1926-27; Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 192. 
* Cf . p. 79. 



or Nietzsche. The Chinese episode abounds in miraculous feats. It 
is well known that its magic steed, its Liliputian army and its 
(jerkily) flying carpet inspired Douglas Fairbanks to make his 
Thief of Bagdad, a spectacular revue of similar conjuring tricks. 

The imagery rather than the plot brings the humane character 
of Death to the fore. With infinite care Death lifts the light of a 
candle, softly separating a child's soul from his body. This gesture 
as well as the tenderness he shows for the girl betrays his inner 
opposition to the duty enjoined on him. He is sick of his duty. Pre- 
cisely by humanizing the agent of Fate, the film emphasizes the 
irrevocability of Fate's decisions. Different pictorial devices serve an 
analogous purpose ; it is as if the visuals were calculated to impress 
the adamant, awe-inspiring nature of Fate upon the mind. Besides 
hiding the sky, the huge wall Death has erected runs parallel with 
the screen, so that no vanishing lines allow an estimate of the wall's 
extent [lUus. 9]. When the girl is standing before it, the contrast 
between its immensity and her tiny figure sjnnbolizes Fate as inac- 
cessible to human entreaties. This inaccessibility is also denoted by 
the innumerable steps the girl ascends to meet Death. 

A very ingenious device makes it clear that no one can hope to 
evade Fate. In the Chinese episode the girl and her lover try to escape 
the revenge of the emperor who is deeply hurt by the girl's insensibil- 
ity to his feelings. But instead of speeding their flight, the girl uses 
her magic wand to call upon the slowest means of transportation — 
an elephant. While they move along on the elephant, troops sent out 
by the emperor are following them with the speed of a snail, and 
there is obviously not the slightest danger of the couplers being 
recaptured. This operatic pursuit — ^it vaguely recalls the escape in 
slow motion in Yantna ^ — characterizes the inscrutable ways of Fate. 
No matter what people do or fail to do. Fate strikes when the time 
has come and not a moment before. The mock chase ends in a scene 
corroborating this meaning. On the emperor's command, his archer, 
who is none other than the agent of Fate, mounts a magic steed, 
rides through the skies, and in a trice overtakes the couple. Now 
that Fate wants to strike, all magic artifices prove ineffective: 
the archer's arrow pierces the lover. 

Released at the begiiming of 1924, Fritz Lang's world-famous 
Die Nibblungen* (Nibbltjngen) was produced by Decla-Bioscop, 

»C£.p. 80f. 



which by then had merged with Ufa. The preparation of this film 
classic took two years. Thea von Harbou, who had a propensity 
for titanic themes, fashioned the script freely after ancient sources, 
attempting to imbue them with current meaning. The Nordic myth 
became a gloomy romance featuring legendary characters in the grip 
of primitive passions. Notwithstanding its monumental style, 
NiBELUNGEN was by no means intended to compete with what Lang, 
in a statement pubHshed on the occasion of the film's premiere, called 
"the external enormousness of the American costume film." Accord- 
ing to him NiBELUNGEN had quite another mission: to oflFer some- 
thing strictly national, something that, like the Lay of the Nibelungs 
itself, might be considered a true manifestation of the German mind.* 
In short, Lang defined this film as a national document fit to pub- 
licize German culture all over the world. His whole statement some- 
what anticipated the Goebbels propaganda. 

Even though the Nibelungen film differs entirely from The 
Ring of the Nihelwag, it is rich in events which no one can witness 
without being haunted by Wagnerian leitmotivs. In Seegpried, the 
film's first part, the hero goes through his adventures with the dragon 
and Alberic, and then visits the court of Burgundy to propose to 
Kriemhild, sister of King Gunther. But Hagen, the king's black- 
minded confidant, demands that, before marrying Kriemhild, Sieg- 
fried help conquer the fierce Brunhild for Gunther. Siegfried agrees, 
and by means of his magic hood cheats Brunhild into becoming 
Gunther's wife. The denouement is well known : Brunhild, learning 
of this base transaction from Kriemhild, insists upon Siegfried's 
death, and Hagen contrives to kill the hero. At the bier of her hus- 
band Kriemhild swears revenge. Kriemhild's Revenge, the film's 
second part, shows her marrying Attila, king of the barbarian Huns, 
and persuading him to invite Gunther to visit them. No sooner has 
Gunther arrived, than Kriemhild incites the Huns to attack him and 
his clan. A terrible mass slaughter ensues, with the Burgundians 
trapped in a hall which on Attila's order is shot afire. The end is an 
orgy of destruction: Kriemhild slays Gunther and Hagen, then she is 
killed, and Attila with her corpse in his arms buries himself in the 
burning hall."^ 

« Lang, "Worauf es beim Nibelungen-Pilm ankam," Die Nihelungen, p. 16. See 
also Vincent, Eistoire do VArt Qindmatographique, pp. 146^7; Willy Haas, **Pas 
letzte Filmjahr," Das grosse Bilderbuch, p. 8. 

Program to the fllmj "Inhaltsangabe fUr die Nibelungen . . Die Nihelangen, 
p. 17 ff. 



In an article on Nibelungen, Thea von Harbou remarked of her 
screen version that it was designed to stress "the inexorability with 
which the first guilt entails the last atonement." ^ In Destiny Pate 
manifests itself through the actions of tyrants; in Nibelxtngen, 
through the anarchical outbursts of ungovernable instincts and 
passions. To mark as fateful the doom these impulses bring about, 
the story closely interlinks causes and effects. From the moment when 
the dying dragon with a movement of his tail makes the ominous 
leaf drop on Siegfried's back down to the moment of Attila's self- 
chosen death, nothing seems left to mere chance. An inherent neces- 
sity predetermines the disastrous sequence of love, hatred, jealousy 
and thirst for revenge. Fate's pace-maker is Hagen, whose sinister 
presence suffices to prevent any good luck from slipping in and 
altering the inevitable. On the surface, he is nothing but Gunther's 
loyal vassal ; but his whole behavior reveals that his loyalty is moti- 
vated by a nihilistic lust for power. Foreshadowing a well-known type 
of Nazi leader, this screen figure augments the mythic compactness 
of the Nibelungen world — a compactness impenetrable to enlighten- 
ment or Christian truth. The cathedral of Worms, which in Sieg- 
fried appears rather frequently, forms a mute background without 

This Fate-conditioned story materiaL'zes through scenes which 
seem to be staged after decorative paintings of a bygone period. The 
scene of Siegfried riding on horseback in studio-built, heroic woods 
vividly recalls Bocklin's "Great Pan." It is amazing that despite 
their too pronounced beauty and their somewhat outmoded taste — ^a 
taste already outmoded in 1924 — ^these pictures are still effective. 
The constructional austerity they breathe may account for it. Lang 
knew why, instead of resorting to Wagner's picturesque opera style 
or to some kind of psychological pantomime, he relied upon the spell 
of such decorative compositions : they symbolize Fate. The compul- 
sion Fate exerts is aesthetically mirrored by the rigorous incorpora- 
tion of all structural elements into a framework of lucid forms. 

There are many elaborate scenic details, such as the marvelous 
ground-mists in the Alberic episode, the flaming waves protecting 
Brunhild's castle, and the young birch trees surrounding the spring 
at which Siegfried is murdered.* But far from pretending to self- 

» Harbou, "Vom Nibelungen-Film und scinem Entstehen," Die Nibelimgerh p. 8. 
Cf. Decla-Bioscop VerUih-Programme, 1928, pp. 44-57. 

» Kalbus, Deutsche FUmkunst, I, 67, ll*. Cf. Balthasar, "Die Dekoration," Der 
Film von Morgen, p. 80. 



sufficiency, each of these details assumes its specific function only 
within the composition as a whole. To heighten the impression of 
pictorial unity, extensive use is made of simple, large and solemn 
architectural structures dominating the scene. Before Siegfried and 
his vassals enter Gunther's palace, they ar€ seen, little figures, on a 
bridge which appears at the upper margin of the screen, and it is the 
relation of this bridge to the deep ravine beneath it that determines 
the picture. Other compositions, too, reduce human beings to acces- 
sories of primeval landscapes or vast buildings. 

As if the inherent ornamental character of these compositions 
were not sufiicient, primitive ornaments cover the walls, curtains, 
ceilings and costumes. Similar patterns appear everywhere. Sieg- 
PBiED includes Kriemhild's "Dream of the Hawks," a short insert 
made by Ruttmann: it is nothing but an animated heraldic de- 
sign involving two black hawks and a white dove in rhythmic 
movements.^^ Frequently the players themselves form ornamental 
figures. One scene shows Gunther's hall, with the king and his retinue 
sitting like statues in symmetrically arranged recesses. The camera 
eagerly exploits every opportunity of capturing figures of this kind. 
When Siegfried pays his first visit to Gunther, his entrance into the 
hall is shot from an elevation, so as to reveal the ornamental aspect 
of the ceremony.^^ 

These patterns collaborate in deepening the impression of Fate's 
irresistible power. Certain specific human ornaments in the film 
denote as well the omnipotence of dictatorship. These ornaments 
are composed of vassals or slaves. Gunther's men support the land- 
ing-stage on which Brunhild goes ashore; standing up to their 
waists in the water, they' are living pillars of mathematical precision. 
Particularly striking is the picture of the chained dwarfs serving as 
a decorative pedestal of the giant urn which contains Alberic's treas- 
ures: cursed by their master, the enslaved creatures are metamor- 
phosed into stone figures. It is the complete triumph of the orna- 
mental over the human [HIus. 10]. Absolute authority asserts itself 
by arranging people under its domination in pleasing designs. This 
can also be seen in the Nazi regime, which manifested strong orna- 
mental inclinations in organizing masses. Whenever Hitler ha- 

10 Rotha, Film TUl iVoio, p. 62. 

11 A similar ornamental style had already asserted itself in Hamlet (1920), a 
German film directed by Sven Gade and featuring Asta Nielsen in the title role. Cf. 
Barry, Program Notesi Series III, program 2. "The interior scenes," Miss Barry says 
of Hauubt, . . often predict the settings for Fritz Lang's Siegfriek,^* 



rangued the people, he surveyed not so much hundreds of thousands 
of listeners as an enormous ornament consisting of hundreds of thou- 
sands of particles.^^ Triumph of the Will, the official Nazi film of 
the Nuremberg Party Convention in 1934, proves that in shaping 
their mass-ornaments the Nazi decorators drew inspiration from 
NiBELUNGEN. Siegfried's theatrical trumpeters, showy steps and 
authoritarian human patterns reappear, extremely magnified, in the 
modern Nuremberg pageant [Illus. 11 and 12]. 

Nibelungen unfolds in lingering scenes that have all the quali- 
ties of stills.^^ Their slow procession, which characterizes the mythic 
realm as a static one, is calculated to draw attention to the action 
proper. This intrinsic action does not coincide with the succession of 
treacheries and murders, but is to be found in the development of 
smoldering instincts and imperceptibly growing passions. It is an 
all but vegetative process through which Fate realizes itself. 

1* Cf. p. 802 f. 

13 Jahier, "42 Ans de Cin&na," Le IB^tU intelleotuel du Ciin4maf p. 61. 


The third group of films emanating from Caligari emphasizes the 
surge of disorderly lusts and impulses in a chaotic world. They may 
be called instinct fihns, in contrast to the tyrant films. The most 
significant achievements among them are based upon the scripts of 
Carl Mayer — scripts written with a view to specifically cinematic 
means. Except for The Last Laugh, the concluding film of the 
series, Mayer's screen poems have met with little response outside 
the circle of the intellectuals. However, the insistence with which they 
all center round one and the same theme is sufficient proof of their 
s3rmptomatic value. 

Immediately after Caligabi, Robert Wiene, meaning to strike 
while the iron was hot, engaged Carl Mayer and the painter Cesare 
Klein for the production of another expressionist film: Genuine 
(1920). This fantasy, in which an exuberant decor competes with a 
far-fetched, bizarre story, is of importance only in that it marks a 
turning-point thematically. Genuine, a sanguinary priestess for sale 
in an Oriental slave-market, is bought by a queer old man, who 
jealously confines her in a sort of glass cage inaccessible to visitors. 
But Genuine manages to lure a young barber into cutting the old 
tyrant's throat, and then carries on as a supcrvamp, ruining all the 
men available.* The narrative shows Mayer's interest shifting from 
the tyrant to the instinct theme. 

All instinct films Mayer made after Genuine have one feature in 
common: they are laid in a lower middle-class world which is the 
meaningless remnant of a disintegrated society. The lower middle 
class appears in Mayer's fihns as a breeding ground for stunned, 
oppressed creatures who, reminiscent of Biichner's Wozzek figure, 
are unable to subhmate their instincts. This was undoubtedly the 
plight of the German petty bourgeoisie during those years. It is true 

1 Kurtz, Expressionismtts, pp. 70-78; Vincent, MistoirB de VArt QinSmato- 
graphique, p. 146. 




that in an era of anarchy the preponderance of instinctive life does 
not confine itself to one single stratum of the population. But this 
kind of life is nowhere as conspicuous and aggressive as in the lower 
middle class where greed ajid jealousy are supplemented by deep 
social resentments and inherited moral impulses that have lost any 
vital function. Mayer conceives his lower middle-class characters 
as instinct-possessed denizens of a shattered universe, and he seizes 
upon them to reveal the destruction and self-destruction they neces- 
arily bring about. Their doom is laid to the workings of Fate. In 
NiBELtJNGEN, Fate is symbolized by a strictly decorative style; in 
Mayer's films, by extreme simplicity in psychological construction. 
A few persons, each incarnating some particular instinct, are in- 
volved in a rigidly composed action. While foreign observers criti- 
cized this simplicity as artificial and poor, German connoisseurs, 
tired of the screen pageants they had to endure, praised these films as 
"chamber plays," exhibiting the very depths of the soul.^ As late as 
1924, when expressionism was definitely fading away. Professor Paul 
Hildebrandt agreed with Carl Hauptmann in contending: "In the 
sphere of the fantastic, the film . . . must represent what can be 
represented only within this medium . . . : the primitive pas- 
sions." * 

In 1921, Carl Mayer began his series with two films, one of which 
was HiNTERTREPPE (Backstairs) . Staged by Leopold Jessner, this 
film is a veritable excess of simplicity. It sets three characters in 
motion : a hired girl absorbed in housekeeping activities ; her lover, 
promising to send the girl letters from afar ; a partly paralyzed, sub- 
normal postman who out of morbid love for the girl intercepts these 
letters. Believing herself abandoned, she is stirred by a sort of 
maternal pity to call on the postman in his nearby basement. Her 
visit there is interrupted by the returning lover. In the ensuing 
quarrel between the two men the frantic postman slays his rival with 
an ax ; whereupon the girl, in a state of complete bewilderment, walks 
up to the roof and throws herself down to the cobblestones. The 
public was rather annoyed by such an accumulation of violence and 

»Tannenbaum, "Der Grossfllm," Der Film von Morgen, pp. 71-72; Mollhausen, 
«Der Aufstieg des Films," Ufa-Blatter, 

3 Hadebrandt, "Literatur und Film," Das Kulturfilmbuch, p. 85. 

■•Weinberg, Scrapbooks, 1925-27; Vincent, Hiatoire de VArt OinimatograpMque, 
p. 158; Kalbus, Deutsche Filmkunst, I, 73. 



The other film released in 1921 was Schebbek (Shattered). 
Lupu Pick directed it with an innate aflSnity for Mayer's intentions. 
At the beginning, a railroad trackwalker (Werner Krauss), his wife 
and his daughter are living in the solitude of snow-covered, wooded 
hills — ^a solitude accented by the man's ever-repeated walks along 
the track, and the occasional passing of a train. The arrival of a rail- 
way inspector controlling this section changes stagnant monotony 
to ferment. It all starts with a love affair between the inspector 
and the quickly yielding daughter. After surprising the two in tender 
intimacy, the pious mother goes out into the cold night to pray 
before a votive tablet, and there freezes to death. The daughter 
implores the inspector to take her with him to town, meets with a 
plain rebuff, and, himiiliated, avenges herself on him by infonning 
her father of what has happened. Deep-rooted awe of the authorities 
causes the trackwalker to knock at the inspector's door; moral 
convention, having become instinct, makes him strangle the seducer 
of his daughter. Then he patrols the track, swinging his signal lan- 
tern to stop the express. (Here an ingenious color effect is used : the 
lantern radiates a bright red, rendering the man's emotional turmoil 
to perfection.) Although the travelers in the dining-car wonder at 
the unexpected stop, they are not at all interested in a humble track- 
walker's affairs. By emphasizing their indifference, the film marks 
the dissolution of society into incompatible social spheres. "I am a 
murderer," the trackwalker says to the engine driver; it is the sole 
caption in the entire fihn. From a rock above the track the daughter, 
gone mad, watches the express with her father in it rush by.*^ 

After Vanina, his last tyrant film, Carl Mayer resumed his felic- 
itous collaboration with Lupu Pick in the domain of the instinct 
films ; the result was Sylvester (New Year's Eve, 1923) . A quota- 
tion from the Tower-of-Babel story heads the script, which has since 
been published as a book : "Go to, let us go down, and there confound 
their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." 
This motto clearly indicates Mayer's design to continue in New 
Year's Eve what he had begun in Shattereb: the representation 
of social chaos by two social spheres separated by an abysmal gulf. 
One sphere materializes in a cheap caf^, the meeting-place of lower 

» Kalbus, ibid., p. 78; "Weinberg, Sorapbooks, 1925-57 j **Shattercd," Btaoeptional 
Photoplays, Jan^eb. 1922, pp. 4-5; Vincent, Histoire de VArt OiiUmatogra/pUque, 
p. 149. 



middle-class people; the other in the street, in a nearby elegant 
restaurant and on the adjacent town square — ^places populated with 
merry crowds celebrating New Year's Eve. To these two spheres a 
third one is added : nature. Pictures of a cemetery, the heath and the 
sea emerge every now and then in the manner of a leitmotiv — ^great 
and silent landscapes which make human agitation seem still more 
extreme. The story proper shows the cafe-owner suffering from the 
discord between his wife and his mother. In her despotic love of the 
son, the mother hates the wife with whom she has to share what she 
considers her exclusive property; in the interest of peace at home, 
the wife in turn wants the son to send his mother away. 

As the conflict reaches its climax, something almost inconceivable 
occurs : unable to make a decision, the man breaks down, and while 
his mother caresses him as if he were a child, he rests his head help- 
lessly on her bosom. This gesture, followed (and corroborated) by 
the suicide of the man [Illus. 13], betrays his intense desire to 
return to the maternal womb. He has never attained maturity. It is 
noteworthy that, far from being repudiated, his singular gesture of 
capitulation reappeared, almost unchanged, in various German 
films,^ indicating that his instinctive reluctance to attempt emancipa- 
tion might be considered a typical German attitude. It is an attitude 
which results from the prolonged dependence of the Germans upon a 
feudal or half-feudal military regime — ^not to mention the current 
social and economic motives enforcing the perpetuation of this atti- 
tude within the middle class. When the cafe-owner capitulates, he 
overflows with a self-pity entirely to the point. Self-pity is the given 
emotional outlet for undeveloped or repressed characters. 

The film ends with a few scenes confronting part of the merry 
crowd with the corpse of the ill-fated caf^-owner; but the two social 
spheres are made to overlap for the sole purpose of stressing their 
utter estrangement. Indifferent to human affairs, the moon shines 
over the sea."^ 

The series culminates in Der mtzte Mann (The Last Laugh ; 
released at the end of 1924) . This powerful film — ^the outcome of 
teamwork by Carl Mayer, F. W. Murnau and the cameraman Karl 

« Cf. pp. 112, 114, 122, 16T f., 171. 

'Cf. Pick, "Vorwart des Rcgisseurs," Sylvester, pp. 9-11; Mayer, "Sylvester,** 
ibid., pp. 17-96; Faure, '^Cin^ma,** Le B6le intellectuel du Cin4ma, p. 209; Balizs, 
Z)er QeiBt det Filmt, p. 58; Rotha, Film TUl JSfow, p. 204; Vincent, Miitoire de fArt 
OinSmatoffraphigue, p. 149. 



Ereund — resumes the basic motif of its forerunners by contrasting 
two buildings : a gloomy tenement house crowded with lower middle- 
class people, and a palace hotel for the rich, who keep the revolving 
door and the elevators in permanent motion. Yet The Last Latjgh 
differs from the previous films in that it shows the two social spheres 
united by strong ties. Wearing his sparkling uniform with an inimi- 
table dignity, Emil Jannings as the old hotel porter not only ushers 
the guests through the revolving door, but also offers candies to the 
children in the yard of the tenement house where he lives with some 
relatives. All the tenants, in particular the female ones, are awed by 
his uniform which, through its mere presence, seems to confer a 
mystic glamour upon their modest existence. They revere it as a sym- 
bol of supreme authority and are happy to be allowed to revere it. 
Thus the film advances, however ironically, the authoritarian credo 
that the magic spell of authority protects society from decomposi- 

In the case of the porter, however, this spell is suddenly de- 
stroyed. The hotel manager, watching him stagger under the burden 
of a heavy trunk, orders the old man to exchange his uniform for 
the white blouse of a — ^lavatory attendant. This rather humane 
administrative measure entails a catastrophe. Since the film implies 
that authority, and authority alone, fuses the disparate social 
spheres into a whole, the fall of the uniform representing authority 
is bound to provoke anarchy. No sooner do the tenants learn about 
the ignominious white blouse than they feel alienated from that upper 
world with which they communed through the uniform. They resent 
being socially abandoned and thrown back into the gloominess of 
their flats and of their souls. All evil lower middle-class instincts are 
unleashed against the porter. The gossiping housewives maliciously 
ridicule him; his own relatives turn him out onto the street. The 
porter's reactions resemble those of the caf ^-owner in New Year's 
Eve. He believes himself humiliated by the loss of his uniform, and 
instead of maturely putting up with his plight, he falls into a self- 
pity tantamount to complete self-renunciation [lUus. 14]. At the 
end he is seen in the hotel's dark lavatory, with the night-watchman 
tenderly wrapping him in a cover. It is a moving gesture of solidarity 
between two human wrecks — a gesture, though, that does not alter 

Here everyone would expect the film to come to a close. But 
Mayer grafts upon this natural conclusion an ingenious second one, 



prefaced by a few sentences which form the Jfihn's sole caption. They 
tell the audience that the author, out of pity for the poor porter's 
fate in real life, wants to guide him towards a better, if unreal, 
future. What follows is a nice farce jeering at the happy ending 
typical of the American film. One should not forget that in 1924 
Hollywood had begun to exert its influence on the German screen. 
The farce opens with the richly dressed porter dining in the grill 
room of the hotel. While he tries to cope with intricate dishes, the 
amused guests show each other a newspaper notice to the eifect that 
an American millionaire bequeathed his fortune to the last person 
present at his death, and that this person happened to be the lava- 
tory attendant. The rest of the fairy tale exhibits the naive kindness 
with which the old porter showers money on the worthy and un- 
worthy alike. After having enjoyed their triumph in the hotel, he 
and his crony, the night-watchman, leave in a carriage drawn by 
four horses : two bragging profiteers, in reality sweet angels.^ 

The farcical character of this concluding sequence corroborates 
its introductory caption in that it expresses the author's disbelief 
in a happy ending involving such categories as chance and good luck. 
If there should exist a way out for hotel porters degraded to lavatory 
attendants, it is certainly not identical with any solution rooted in 
the superficial concepts of Western civilization. Through its second 
ending the film underscores the significance of its first one, and more- 
over rejects the idea that the "decline of the West" could be remedied 
by the blessings of the West. 

Mayer's films reveal their remoteness from realism by the in- 
sistent use made in them of a specifically expressionist device. No 
character bears a name: the mother is "the Mother," the trackwalker 
just "the Trackwalker." Instead of portraying individuals, aU 
these characters incarnate impulses and passions^ — allegoric figures 
required for the externalization of inner visions. This requirement 
determines the whole staging. The d^cor of Backstairs would have 
been impossible without Caligari; the snow-covered sceneries in 
Shattered — ^their insertion may have been due to the influence of 
the Swedish film — ^look exactly as if they were studio-built struc- 

sRotha, "It's in tlie Script," World Film News, Sept. 1988, p. 205; Potamkin, 
"The Rise and Fall of the German Film," CinSma^ April 1930, p. 25, and "Kino and 
Lichtspiel," Close Up, Nov. 1929, p. 887-88, For the rupture between Mayer and 
Pick on the occasion of Thb Last Laugh, see Vincent, Eistoire de VArt CinSmato- 
graphique, p. 149. 



tures; the bizarre lower middle-class scenes in The Last Laugh 
counterbalance the film's concessions to the realistic current gaining 
momentum in 1924!.^ 

Because of its world success The Last Laugh has usually been 
considered the source of cinematic innovations which, in fact, are 
peculiar to the whole series of instinct films. Among these innovations 
— they can all be traced to Carl Mayer's suggestions — one struck the 
public immediately: the lack of any captions. Except for the two 
mentioned above, the stories are told exclusively through pictures.^*' 
Here again the interrelationship between the method of representa- 
tion and the content to be represented is striking. It is not so 
much the technical ingenuity as the subject-matter of the instinct 
fihns that causes the film-makers to introduce titleless narration. In- 
stincts and passions flourish beneath the dimension of discursive 
reasoning, and therefore lend themselves to being pictured without 
verbal explanations. This holds particularly true for Mayer's films, 
with their purposefully simplified plot. They are displays of essen- 
tially mute events. Captions in them would not only be superfluous, 
but would interfere with pictorial continuity. That contemporaries 
were aware of this structural necessity is shown by a review of New 
Yeah's Eve published in the German film magazine Licht Bild 
Biikne after the film's premiere : "What counts is not so much the 
actual omission of titles ... as the fact that, owing to its whole 
structure, New Year's Eve can and even must do without them." 

Mayer's films are also the first to seize upon the world of objects 
— ^until then explored only by slapstick comedy — ^in the interest of 
dramatic action. When Backstairs was released in New York, one 
of the reviewers pointed to the important role of the hired girl's 
alarm clock. She "is shown being awakened by her alarm clock at six 
in the morning. She sets it back five minutes, and then the idea that 
it is ringing again is depicted by the key in the back of the timepiece 
slowly turning. . . The alarm clock reappears in Shattered 

» Kurtz, BxpfMsioniimus, pp. 88-84r. For the influence of the Swedish fUm, see 
Mollhausen, "Der Aufstieg des Films," Ufa-Bliitter; Balthasar, "Die Dekoration," 
Der Film von Morgan, pp. 78-79. — ^That Murnau himself inclined towards realism is 
proved by his film comedy Dns Finanzes- pes Grosshehzoos (The Grand Duke's 
Finances, winter 1928-4). The magazine Licht Bild Biihne (Jan. 8, 1924) acknowl- 
edged this comedy with a sigh of reliefs "At last a film without deeper significance f 
Quoted from Zaddach, Der titerarisohe JPiJwi, p. 56. 

10 Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 298. 
Quoted from Zaddach, Ver literariache FUm, p. 54. 

1* See Weinberg, Scrapbookg, 1925-2T. 



along with such significant objects as the miserable scarcecrow trem- 
bling in the wind before the trackwalker's house, and the shining 
boots of the inspector. While the daughter goes on her knees to clean 
the staircase, these boots leisurely descend the steps, and almost 
touch her — the first view she has of her future lover. In addition, 
Shattered offers details of locomotives, wheels, telegraph wires, sig- 
nal bells and other pertinent items destined to degenerate into 
the standardized adornments of innumerable railway scenes to 

In New Year's Eve, the motif of the clock acquires its full 
meaning. Even more important than the clock on the town square is a 
pendulum clock in the caf^-owner's room. As with twelve strokes it 
marks the beginning of the new year, the camera turns from it to the 
corpse of the caf^-owner, thus forcing upon us our simultaneous 
existence in the outer and the inner world, the tem'ps espace and the 
temps durSe. It is as if the objects watched attentively the spectacle 
of raging human passions or even participated in it. The perambula- 
tor in the room where the cafe-owner's mother and wife fight each 
other assumes a restless life of its own, and the revolving door of the 
elegant restaurant is both entrance-way and background for the 
merry crowds on the street. 

In The Last Laugh this revolving door becomes an obsession.^' 
The film opens with a magnificent traveling shot showing the hotel 
guests streaming through the ever-turning door, a device employed 
time and again until the very end — something between a merry-go- 
round and a roulette wheel [Ulus. 15]. A piece de rSsistance like 
the door, the porter's ubiquitous uniform seems endowed with the 
power of luring scores of other objects out of their seclusion. The 
trunks intervene energetically; the walls in the nocturnal hotel 
seem to breathe. Even fragments of human bodies are dragged 
into the realm of objects: owing to big close-ups, no one can tell 
the open mouths of gossips from fuming craters. This irresistible 
tendency to involve inanimate objects in the action springs from 
the intrinsic nature of Mayer's instinct-possessed characters. In- 
capable of sublimating their impulses, they inhabit a region de- 
termined by physical sensations and material stimulants — a region 
in which objects loom high, taking on the function of stumbling- 
blocks or signal-posts, enemies or partners. These films are bound 
to call upon alarm clocks and revolving doors: the dock obsesses 
Cf. Lejeune, Cinema, pp. 122-28. 



the mind of the hired girl, and in swinging the door, the porter, one 
with his uniform, sways his scepter. 

It is true that many an object seems to be exhibited merely for 
the sake of cheap symbolism. The repeated close-ups of broken glass 
in Shattered have no purpose other than to denote the fragility of 
human design in the face of Tate ; they mean nothing by themselves. 
But these obvious failures arise from the same source as the solid 
attainments — from Mayer's passion for objects. By conquering the 
domain of objects for the screen, he enriched its pictorial vocabulary 
lastingly ; it was a conquest which, in harmony with his effort to can- 
cel all captions, paved the way for truly cinematic narration. 

In his preface to the publication of New Yearns Eve, Lupu Pick 
makes an elucidating remark about its subtitle, "Ein LicMspieV 
("A Play of Light"). Carl Mayer, he states, "may well have in- 
tended to disclose brightness and darkness . . . within the soul 
itself, that eternal alternation of light and shadow characterizing 
the psychological relations between human beings." Pick's state- 
ment reveals that in Mayer's series, no less than in the expressionist 
film proper, the light is an unreal light, one that illuminates interior 
landscapes, "The illumination seemed to emanate from the objects 
themselves," the Belgian film writer Carl Vincent comments on Back- 
STAms.^** Creating not so much sharply contoured forms as fluctuat- 
ing complexes, this light helps emphasize the irrational events of 
instinctive life. Such events draw near or dissolve like any elemental 
phenomenon, and the light illustrates that agitation. In The Last 
Laugh impenetrable shadows transform the lavatory entrance into a 
dark abyss, and the appearance of the night-watchman is forecast by 
the circle of light his lantern projects on the walls. 

AH these achievements are topped by the mobilization of the 
camera in Mayer's films. Owing to complete camera mobility. The 
Last Laugh strongly influenced Hollywood's motion-picture tech- 
nique.^** Yet this film only brought to perfection what had already 
announced itself in Shattered — at a time when no one else thought 
of moving a camera firmly fastened to its fixed tripod. In Shattered, 
so-called pan shots — shots ranging from one point of the scene to 
another, so as to make the spectator survey a whole panorama — 
deliberately advance the narrative. For instance, the camera pans 

" Pick, "Vorwort des Regisseuis," Syhestetf p. 9. 

" Vincent, JSistoire de VArt Cin4matogra/pTi%quey p. 158. 

i» Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 177; Jacobs, American Film, p. 807; Potamkin, **Kino 
and Lichtspiel," Close Up, Nov. 1929, pp. 890^1. 



from the trembling scarecrow to a comer window, with the silhouettes 
of the inspector and the daughter behind it, in a slow and steady 
movement designed not only to divulge the starting love affair, but 
also to relate its meaning to that of the desolate effigy in the wind. 
By connecting successive visual elements in such a way that they are 
forced to illuminate each other, the freed camera develops an activity 
entirely consistent with the omission of titles and the promotion of 
objects: it intensifies that pictorial continuity through which in- 
stinctive life manifests itself. In the case of Mayer's films, camera 
movements are the more needed as the instincts unfold in a chaotic 
world. These movements serve to familiarize the spectator with 
spheres and events irretrievably separated from each other. Guided 
by the camera, he is in a position to survey the frantic whole without 
going astray in the labyrinth. 

Carl Mayer himself was quite conscious of what he achieved in 
unchaining the camera. In his preface to New Year's Eve, he first 
defines the spheres of the merry crowds and the natural scenery as 
the "surroundings" of the cafe-owner's rooms, and then states that 
certain movements of the camera are calculated to express the idea 
of a world including the "surroundings" as well as the scene of action 
proper. "As the events progress, these movements are ... to en- 
compass depths and heights, so as to picture the frenzy shaking the 
whole human world amidst nature." To realize Mayer's directives 
for New Year's Eve, Lupu Pick's cameraman, Guido Seeber, intro- 
duced a tripod moving on rails.^® 

When, a little later, Murnau staged The Last Latjgh, he had a 
fully automatic camera at his disposal, an instrument capable of all 
sorts of movements. Throughout this film it pans, travels and tilts 
up and down with a perseverance which not only results in a pictorial 
narrative of complete fluidity, but also enables the spectator to follow 
the course of events from various viewpoints.^® The roving camera 
makes him experience the glory of the uniform as well as the misery 
of the tenement house, metamorphoses him into the hotel porter, and 
imbues him with the author's own feelings. He is psychologically 
ubiquitous. However, despite its eagerness for ever-changing aspects, 
the camera, at home in the dimension of instincts, refrains from pene- 
trating that of consciousness. Conscious acting is not allowed to 

Mayer, "Technisdie Vorbemerkungen des Autors," Sylvester, pp. 16-16. 
" Kalbus, Deutsche PUmkunst, I, 111-12. 

loPotamkin, "The Rise and Pall of the German Film," Cinema, April 1980, 
p. 25: "Die Entfesselte Kamera," UforMagazin, March 26-81, 1927. 



prevail. The player is the passive subject of the camera. In a retro- 
spective article on F. W. Mumau, Kenneth White elaborates this 
point by referring to a scene in which the porter gets drunk : "The 
pantomime everyone had thought to be the derived art of the movies 
was not discoverable in The Last Laugh. The doorman got drunk, 
but not in the way a pantomimic actor with subordinate properties 
got drunk ; the camera did it for him." 

During the whole postwar period the theme of Mayer's instinct 
films proved so attractive that any literary work showing some 
affinity for it was inamediately transferred to the screen — from 
Strindberg's Lad^ Julia (Fraulein Julie, 1922) to Tolstoy's 
Power of Darkness (Die Macht der Finstbunis, 1924*), from Ger- 
hart Hauptmann's peasant drama Rose Bemd (Rose Bernd, 1919) 
to that of his brother Carl, Driven from Home (Austbeibttng, 
1923).^^ When Rose Bebnd appeared in New York, the Nafiondl 
Board of Review Magassme commented on it in terms which some- 
how cover the whole trend of kindred films, regardless of their differ- 
ent aesthetic qualities. "It is a picture . . . with no moral other than 
that which ... is implied by the fate of its characters, and by the 
forces leading to that fate. It is also a picture ... in which one may 
feel blind impulses welling from their springs of animal need and in- 
stinct." ^ The bulk of these adaptations was followed by a brilliant 
straggler, Chronik von Grieshutjs (Chronicles of the Gray 
House, 1925) ; made after Theodor Storm's story of the same title, 
it breathed the atmosphere of a sinister medieval saga.^^ 

White, "FJlaa Chronidici F. W. Murnau," Bound ^ Mom, July-Sept. 1981, 

p. 581. 

For these films, see Zaddacb, Der UterarUohe Film, pp. 42-48, 58; Kalbus, 
Deutsche Filmkunat, I, 72-78; Decla-Bioscop Verleth-Proffra-mmef 1928, pp. 64-67. 

**Rose Bernd,»» National Board of Beviev) Magastine, Feb. 192T, p. 16. 

Barrett, "Grey Magic," National Board of Review Magascine, Dec. 1926, pp. 4-6. 
FUms in a similar vein were Sappho (Mas Lovx, 1921) — see Ufa VeYleih-PrograTrvme, 
1928, p. 17— -and Lupu Pick's Witdem-to (Tbde Wuj) Duck, 1925). For the latter fUm, 
see Film Society Frogramrne, Not. 18, 1928. 


The German soul, haunted by the alternative images of tyrannic 
rule and instinct-governed chaos, threatened by doom on either side, 
tossed about in gloomy space like the phantom ship in Nosperatit. 

While tyrant and instinct films were still flourishing, the German 
screen began to offer films manifesting an intense inner desire to find 
a way out of the dilemma. It was a desire pervading the whole sphere 
of consciousness. Whoever lived through those crucial years in Ger- 
many will remember the craving for a spiritual shelter which pos- 
sessed the young, the intellectuals. The Church won over many, and 
the enthusiasm these converts manifested over their newly acquired 
security contrasted strangely with the attempt by a group of young 
men born in the Catholic faith to influence ecclesiastic policy in favor 
of leftist tendencies. There is also no doubt that the increase of 
communist sympathizers was in part the result of the spell the 
orthodox character of the Marxist doctrine cast over many mentally 
unprotected who were in search of a solid refuge. In their dread of 
being left in the open, scores of people rushed to mushroom prophets, 
who were to sink into oblivion a few years later. The theosophist 
Rudolf Steiner was a particular rage of the time; he resembled 
Hitler in that he zealously advertised inflated visions in execrable, 
petty-bourgeois German. 

On the screen diverse efforts were being made to discover a modus 
Vivendi, a tenable pattern of inner existence. Two films by Ludwig 
Berger, both released in 1923, are typical of one of these attempts : 
Em Glas Wasser (A Glass of Water), fashioned after Scribe's 
comedy of that title, and Der verlorene Schtth (Ckstderella), 
which transferred the ancient fairy tale to the screen with many 
arabesques and detours.^ To justify the choice of such bright sub- 
jects in so dark a world, Berger cited the Romantics as a precedent. 

^ Programs to these films. For Cikpxbxxxa, see also Fihn Society Profframme^ 
Nov. 22, 1926. 




In the prospectus of A Glass of Watee he wrote: "In times of mis- 
ery and oppression even more than in times of security and wealth, 
we long for serenity and light play. There has been much talk about 
the ^flight of the Romantics.' But what outwardly appeared to be a 
flighty was in reality the deepest self-examination . . . , was food 
and strength during decades of external poverty, and at the same 
time a bridge to a better future." ^ Berger's reference to the Roman- 
tics only emphasizes the escapist character of his own products. 

While inflation grew all-devouring and political passion was at 
its height, these films provided the illusion of a never-never land in 
which the poor salesgirl triumphs over the conniving queen, and the 
kind fairy godmother helps Cinderella win Prince Charming. It was, 
of course, enjoyable to forget harsh reality in tender daydreams, 
and CiNDERELiJiL in particular satisfied the longing for "serenity and 
light play" by concocting, with the aid of special cinematic devices, 
a sweet mixture of human affairs and supernatural miracles. How- 
ever, this never-never land was not beyond the range of politics. 

Both films developed within settings staged by Rudolf Bam- 
berger in the warm and gay style of South German baroque — set- 
tings of a pronounced symmetry, to which Paul Rotha early drew 
attention. "Doorways, windows, gateways, alley-ways, etc., were 
always set in the centre of the screen, the remainder of the composi- 
tion moving about them." ^ This baroque d^cor, with its stress on 
symmetry, conveyed the spirit of patriarchal absolutism reigning in 
the old Catholic principalities: the two films conceived the "better 
future" as a return to the good old days. Bergcr was not wrong in 
leaning on the Romantics; they, too, inclined to glorify the past, 
and in consequence had strong afiiliations with the traditional powers 
[Illus. 16]. These films were pleasant digressions. But their inherent 
romanticism was unable to meet the wants of a collective mind defi- 
nitely expelled from that baroque paradise. 

A second effort to establish an adequate psychological pattern 
consisted in the suggestion that all suffering springing from tyranny 
or chaos should be endured and overcome in the spirit of Christlike 
love. This suggestion recommended itself by its implication that 
inner metamorphosis counts more than any transformation of the 
outer world — an implication justifying the aversion of the middle 

« Program brochure to A Glass op Wateb. 
3 Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 199. 



class to social and political changes. Here it becomes clear why, in 
NosFERATTT, Nina's love alone succeeds in defeating the vampire, 
and why, in Destiny, the girl's union with her lover in the hereafter 
is made dependent upon her supreme self-sacrifice.'* It was the solu- 
tion of Dostoievsky. His works — edited by Moeller van den Bruck, 
who supplied the Nazis with the basic concept of the "Third Reich" 
— ^were then so popular with the middle class that their red covers 
adorned every drawing room. What James T. Farrell writes about 
The Brothers Karainazov also applies to this emotional trend in post- 
war Germany : "The revolution will only produce catastrophe. Man 
must suffer. The noblest man is he who suffers not only for himself 
but for all his fellow-men. Since the world cannot be changed, man 
must be changed by love." ^ As early as 1920, a fragment of the 
Karamazov novel was transferred to the screen.® Robert Wiene 
seized upon Crime and Pimishment; his Raskolnikow (Crime and 
Punishment), released in 1923, was performed by a group of the 
Moscow Art Players adapting themselves to stylized settings remin- 
iscent of Calxgari. Conspicuous are the scenes in which Raskol- 
nikow indulges in self -accusing fantasies before the judge; a spider's 
web ornamenting the comer of a wall actively participates in the 
"physiognomic duel" between the oily judge and the delirious mur- 

Other films, too, plunged into the depths of religious experience. 
With the aid of Asta Nielsen, Henny Porten, Werner Krauss and 
Gregori Chmara, Robert Wiene staged I.N.R.I. (1923), a passion 
play that was framed by scenes showing a murderer sentenced to 
death. Meditating on the story of Christ's Passion, the murderer — ^he 
has shot a minister to free his people from oppression — comes to 
abjure his revolutionary methods.® The political significance of many 
a religious conversion could not have been exhibited more directly. 
In a similar vein were several balladlike films with a certain Dos- 

* Cf. pp. 79, 90. 

« Farrell, *TDostoievsky and *The Brothers Karamazov* Revalued," New York 
Times Book Review, Jan. 9, 1944, p. 28. 

*DrE Bruder Karamjisoff (The Brothers Karamazov), directed by Carl Froelich. 
Cf. Zaddach, Der UterariacTie Film, pp. 88-89; Amiguet, Cinima! Cin4mal, p. 50. 

''"Crime and Punishment," National Board of Review Magazine, June 1927, 
pp. 10-11; Film Society Programme, Dec. 20, 1925; Vincent, Histoire de VArt Cin4- 
matogrwphigue, p. 146; Kurtz, Ex'preisionis'nms, pp. 75, 76, 78. A similar **phy8iog- 
nomic duel" — ^this phrase was coined by Bal&ES — occurred in Joe May's Die 
Traoodie der LiEBE (LovE Tragedy, 1928) ; cf. Baldzs, I>er sichthare Mentch, p. 70, 
and KurtsB, ibid., pp. 7^-79. 

^Film Society Programme, Jan. 8, 1928; Kalbus, Deutsche FiJmkunst, 1, 54. 



toievsky touch; Der Henkbr von St.-Mareen (The Hangman of 
St.-Mabien, 1920), Der Graf von Charolais (The Count of 
Chabolais, 1922, a screen version of Richard Beer-Hofmann's 
play) and Der steinerne Reiter (The Stone Rider, 1923).'* 
They demonstrated that true love is capable of working miracles, or 
that heavenly miracles may intervene in favor of true love. But not- 
withstanding the relatively broad appeal of these films, the form of 
inner existence they endorsed proved attainable only to a small, pre- 
disposed minority. The way of Christlike love was for the Germans 
a mirage rather than a solution. 

A third attempt to cope with the existing plight manifested itself 
through a fihn genre which was exclusively German: the mountain 
films. Dr. Arnold Fanck, a native of Freiburg i. Br., discovered this 
genre and all but monopolized it throughout the republican era. He 
was originally a geologist infatuated with mountain climbing. In his 
zeal for spreading the gospel of proud peaks and perilous ascents, 
Fanck relied increasingly on actors and technicians who were, or 
became, outstanding alpinists and skiers. Among his foremost col- 
laborators were Leni Riefenstahl, Luis Trenker and Sepp Allgeier. 

Mountains had already been featured in Homunculus and 
Caligari, Homunculus is seen standing on a mountain top when 
lightning strikes him for blasphemy ; and when Dr. Caligari makes 
his first appearance, it is as if he emerged from the conical moun- 
tain towering over Holstenwall and the fair. However, these moun- 
tains were primarily symbolic, and Fanck was interested in real 
ones. He began with three films devoted to the joys and beauties 
of mountain sport: Wttnder des Schneeschuhs (Marvels of 
Ski, 1920), Im Kampf mit den Bergen (Struggle with the 
Mountains, 1921) and Fttchsjagd im Engadin (Fox Hunt in 
THE Engadine, 1928), a film depicting a paper chase on skis.^** 
These films were extraordinary in that they captured the most 
grandiose aspects of nature at a time when the German screen in 
general offered nothing but studio-made scenery. In subsequent 
films, Fanck grew more and more keen on combining precipices and 
passions, inaccessible steeps and insoluble human conflicts; every 
year brought a new drama in the mountains. But the fictional ele- 

*Por The Hanomamt op St.-Mabien, see lUuatrierter Filmr-Kurier; for The 
CoFiTT OF Chaholam, program to this fllmj for Thk Stoite Ridee, Decla-Biosoop 
VerUih'Pfogramme, 1928, p. 26. See also Kalbus, Deutfohe Filmkunst, I, 64, 66. 

^0 Kalbus, ibid., p. 91. Cf. Fanck, Kampf mit dem Berpe, 



ment, rampant as it was, did not interfere with an abundance of 
documentary shots of the silent world of high altitudes. As docu- 
ments these fihns were incomparable achievements. Whoever saw 
them will remember the glittering white of glaciers against a sky 
dark in contrast, the magnificent play of clouds forming mountains 
above the mountains, the ice stalactites hanging down from roofs and 
windowsills of some small chalet, and, inside crevasses, weird ice 
structures awakened to iridescent life by the torchlights of a noc- 
turnal rescue party. 

The message of the mountains Fanck endeavored to popularize 
through such splendid shots was the credo of many Germans with 
academic titles, and some without, including part of the university 
youth. Long before the first World War, groups of Munich students 
left the dull capital every weekend for the nearby Bavarian Alps, 
and there indulged their passion. Nothing seemed sweeter to them 
than the bare cold rock in the dim light of dawn. FuU of Promethean 
promptings, they would climb up some dangerous "chimney," then 
quietly smoke their pipes on the summit, and with infinite pride look 
down on what they called "vaUey-pigs'' — ^those plebeian crowds who 
never made an effort to elevate themselves to lofty heights. Far from 
being plain sportsmen or impetuous lovers of majestic panoramas, 
these mountain climbers were devotees performing the rites of a cult" 
[Illus. 17]. Their attitude amounted to a kind of heroic idealism 
which, through blindness to more substantial ideals, expended itself 
in tourist exploits. 

Fanck's dramas carried this attitude to such an extreme that the 
uninitiated could not help feeling irritated at the mixture of spar- 
kling ice-axes and inflated sentiments. In Berg des ScHicxsAis 
(Peak of Destint, 1924), a fanatical mountain climber considers 
it the mission of his life to conquer the impregnable Guglia del 
Diavolo. He is killed in action. His son promises the mourning 
mother never to approach that "peak of destiny." Unfortunately, 
his sweetheart approaches it, and of course goes astray. As her 
signals of distress are seen in the village, the mother releases the 
son from his promise with the words: *'If you succeed in rescuing 
this human life, the death of your father had a meaning." The son 

This strange cult never fails to puzzle outsiders. In James R. Ullman's pompous 
mountain novel, The White Tower (p. 72), a Swiss guide says to an American pilot: 
"We Swiss—yes, and the English and French and Americans, too— we dimb moun- 
tains for sport. But the Germans, no. What it is they dimb for I do not know. Only 
it is not for sport,'* 



succeeds and even heightens the meaning of his father's death by 
setting his foot on the top of the devilish Guglia amidst a terrific 

The conduct of another model mountaineer, featured in Der 
Heilige Berg (The Holy Mountain, 1927), shows that Fanck's 
fanciful heroes were sometimes able to master their fiery instincts. 
During a stunt ascent made in the company of his young friend 
Vigo, this alpinist learns that Vigo is wooing the very girl with 
whom he himself is in love. In a fit of jealousy, he turns on Vigo, who 
involuntarily moves backwards and loses his foothold. With his 
companion hanging in mid-air on the rope that connects them, the 
alpinist reconsiders and, obedient to the code of mountain climbers, 
tries to rescue him at the expense of his own life.^^ Although this 
kind of heroism was too eccentric to serve as a pattern for the people 
in the valleys, it was rooted in a mentality kindred to Nazi spirit. 
Immaturity and mountain enthusiasm were one. W^hen, in The 
Holt Mofntain, the girl teUs Vigo that she is willing to gratify 
any wish he might express, Vigo goes down on his knees and puts 
his head in her lap. It is the gesture of the cafe-owner in New 
Year's Eve. In addition, the idolatry of glaciers and rocks was 
symptomatic of an antirationalism on which the Nazis could capi- 

Particularly memorable is a fourth attempt at inner adjustment 
— ^the only progressive one made during the immediate postwar 
years. It aimed at endowing rational thinking with executive powers, 
1) that it would be able to dispel the dark inhibitions and unchecked 
impulses of which the collective soul was possessed. If this attempt 
to enthrone reason had been successful, reason would have denounced 
the phantom character of the torturing alternative of tyranny or 
chaos, and eventually have done away with those traditional authori- 
tarian dispositions that obstructed true emancipation. But interest 
in mobilizing reason was apparently so limited that it reached the 
screen only in two isolated instances, one of which was nothing more 
than an episode of Wegener's second Golem (1920). 

Professor Polzig had devised the settings for this enlarged ver- 
sion of the old prewar film. In it the Hapsburg emperor issues an 
order that the Jews are to be expelled from their ghetto, a dream- 

" Program to this Aim; Kalbus, Deutsche FilmkuTtst, I, 91. 
»a Program to this film. 



like maze of crooked streets and stooped houses. To soothe the 
emperor's mind, Rabbi Loew, by means of magic, conjures up a 
procession of Biblical figures — among them Ahasuerus, who pro- 
ceeds to trespass on the domain of reality, starting to destroy the 
imperial palace. The emperor, panic-stricken, agrees to withdraw 
his order of expulsion if the rabbi will avert the danger; thereupon 
the latter directs the Golem, his servant, to prevent walls and ceilings 
from falling down. The Golem obeys with the automatic promptness 
of a robot [Illus. 18]. Here reason avails itself of brute force as a 
tool to liberate the oppressed. But instead of following up this motif, 
the film concentrates upon the Golem's emancipation from his master, 
and becomes increasingly entangled in half-truths.^* 

The other instance of concern with reason was Schatten 
(Warning Shadows, 1922), which in its German version bore the 
subtitle "A Nocturnal Hallucination" C^Eme ndchtliche HoLhizmor 
tion"). This fihn, directed by Arthur Robison, resembled Carl 
Mayer's screen poems in that it involved nameless characters in an 
aU but titleless narration. Similarities of style originate in a simi- 
larity of theme. To a large extent. Warning Shadows is nothing 
but an instinct film, which accounts for the marked role assigned 
in it to the display of lights and shadows. Their marvelous fluctua- 
tions seem to engender this extraordinary drama. 

Fashioned after an idea by Albin Grau, the film opens with a 
few scenes showing a jealous count exasperated at the favors his 
wife bestows on her four courtiers. One of them, called "the Lover," 
is on the point of passing beyond the stage of mere hope. Whik 
the count and his wife entertain this amorous quartet, a strolling 
juggler asks permission to present shadow-plays. The juggler soon 
senses disaster in the air, and discontinues his performance to fore- 
stall a tragedy arising out of the steady growth of conflicting pas- 
sions. A sagacious wizard, he removes the shadows cast by the party 
alongside the table, and simultaneously hypnotizes all six persons, 
so that they follow their shadows into the realm of the subcon- 
scious [Ulus. 19]. In a state of trance, they anticipate the future 
by doing exactly what they would do if their passions continued 
to determine their actions. The drama develops into a **noctumal 
hallucination"; it reaches its climax when the count, mad with 

****The Golem," Exceptional Photoplays, June 1921, pp. a-4; Ufa Verl^th-Pro- 
1928, p. 14; Vincent, Bistoire de VArt Cvn47natogra/phique, p. 148; Eotba, 
Film TUl Now, p. 284; Barry, Program Notes, Series III, program 1. 



jealousy, compels the courtiers to stab his fettered wife. Here 
again the immaturity of instinct-possessed beings manifests itself in 
the customary way : the count rests his head on the Lover's chest and 
weeps bitterly over what has happened. The hallucination ends with 
the furious courtiers throwing the count out of the window. Then 
the scene shifts back to the hypnotized party alongside the table, 
and the shadows are seen returning to their owners, who slowly 
awaken from their collective nightmare. They are cured. White 
magic has enabled them to grasp the hidden springs and terrible 
issue of their present existence. Owing to this magical therapy — ^it 
recalls model cases of psychoanalytical treatment — ^the count 
changes from a puerile berserk into a composed adult, his coquettish 
wife becomes his loving wife, and the Lover takes silent leave. 
Their metamorphosis at the very end of the film coincides with the 
beginning of a new day whose sober natural lighting splendidly 
symbolizes the light of reason.^" 

Even though it belongs among the masterpieces of the German 
screen, Warning Shadows passed almost unnoticed. Contempo- 
raries may have felt that any acknowledgment of the healthy shock 
effect of reason was bound to result in an adjustment to the ways 
of democracy. In a retrospective comment on Warning Shadows, 
Fritz Arno Wagner, its cameraman, states : "It only found response 
from the film aesthetes, making no impression on the general pub- 

18 Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 200 j Potamkin, "The Rise and Fall of the German 
Film,** Cinema, April 1980, p. 25. 

i« Wagner, "I Believe in the Sound Film," FUm Art, 1986, no. 8, p. 11. 


Still, another attempt to overcome the unbearable inner dilemma 
was made during the postwar years. It advocated the resumption of 
authoritarian behavior, presupposing a mentality that would pre- 
fer even a tyrannical regime to chaos. Typical of the authoritarian 
tendency were two films springing from almost opposite camps and 
reflecting very different surroundings. Despite their discrepancies, 
both promote the same psychological pattern. 

One of the two films was Friderictjs Rex, an opulent, if cine- 
matically trivial, Ufa product, released in 1922. No one could 
overlook its purpose: it was pure propaganda for a restoration of 
the monarchy. Directed by Arz^n von Cserepy, the film depicted the 
life of Frederick the Great in a succession of loosely connected epi- 
sodes, with little regard for historic truth. At the beginning, the 
young crown prince is seen revolting against the rigorous discipline 
his father enjoins on him; but instead of exhibiting the rebel's un- 
patriotic passion for French philosophy and Hterature, Ufa cun- 
ningly emphasizes a neutral love affair to demonstrate his sense of 
independence. Subsequent episodes record his attempt to run away, 
his arrest and those terrible minutes during which, by order of his 
father, Frederick witnesses the execution of his friend Katte. Much 
footage is devoted to displaying the fortunate results of this bar- 
barian punishment: Frederick submits so completely to his father's 
will that he even marries the unloved princess of Brunswick-Bevern, 
whereupon the father closes his eyes with the certitude of leaving 
behind a worthy successor. That certitude is not belied. No sooner 
does he ascend the throne, than the former rebel continues the work 
of his father [lUus. 20]. 

This screen Frederick is given two major virtues. He appears 
as the father of his people — a patriarchal ruler using his absolute 
power to mitigate legal hardships, further general welfare and pro- 
tect the poor from exploitation by the rich. Simultaneously, he 
appears as the national hero who, through several successful wars. 




elevates little Prussia to the rank of a great power. The whole 
construction overtly aims at convincing the audience that another 
Frederick might not only prove an effective antidote against the 
virus of socialism, but also realize Germany's national aspirations. 
To strengthen the emotional ties between the audience and this 
timely figure, Ufa elaborates upon his inner suffering. The episodes 
of the Seven Years' War characterize Frederick as a tragic genius 
involved in a seemingly hopeless fight and abandoned by his most 
reliable followers. In addition, there is a continuous display of mili- 
tary parades and victorious battles — ^just the kind of spectacle that 
would elate patriots in distress over the lost war, the disarmament 
and that odious confusion called democracy.^ 

FRrDERicxrs Rex was met by heavy opposition in the press. 
Vorwdrts and the communist Freiheit invited the masses to boycott 
the fihn, while the democratic Berlmer Tagehlatt called for police 
intervention.^ It is also hardly believable that South Germany took a 
liking to this piece of Prussian self-glorification. However, South 
Germany was not the Reich, and political protests do not prove much 
about psychological reactions. During the production of the film, two 
thousand extras were assigned to cheer the newly crowned king in 
the courtyard of the Berlin Old Palace (Altes Schloss), When he 
stepped out onto the balcony in his regalia, they manifested an 
enthusiam that could not have been ordered by any director. "Here 
the people act themselves," an eyewitness stated.^ Even in workers' 
quarters, the performances of the film are reported to have drawn 
full houses.* A sure sign of its success was the eagerness with 
which Ufa as well as other film companies repeated the formula. 
In the years to come, numerous similar fihns were launched, the last 
ones under Hitler. Whether they featured Frederick as the rebellious 
youth, the charming host of Sans Souci or the "Old Fritz," they 
all more or less adopted the pattern of the first Fridericus film. And 
in all but one of them Otto Gebiihr portrayed the king. Perhaps it 
is more correct to say that he resurrected him. Whenever he played 
the flute, fastened his great sparkling eyes on some ambassador, rode 
on a white horse at the head of his troops, or, a stooped figure in a 

* Program to the film's first two parts; Ufa V^rkih-Proffrcmme, 1923, pp. 26-29 
(also including synopsis of Parts 8 and 4) j Tannenbaum, "Der Grossfilm," I>er Film 
von Morgen, p. 67. 

^Kalbus, DeuttoTie Filmkunat, I, 55; Vincent, Histoire de VArt QinimatO" 
graphique, p. 142; Bard^che and Brasillach, Mi9toTy of Motion Pictures, p, 189. 
» Birnbanm, "Massensccnen im Film," Ufa^BUitter, 

* Kalbus, Deutsche FUmkunstt I, 55. 


dirty uniform, moved about with his crutch among his generals, it 
was as if Frederick himself passed across the screen — at least, it was 
so until 1930, when the actor's sonorous stage voice began to conflict 
with his appearance. 

Towards the end of the twenties, Werner Hegemann published 
a book on Prederick the Great violently attacked by all nationalists 
for debunking the current Frederick legend.^ But even though many 
intellectuals on the left took sides with Hegemann, the ^^rue" 
Frederick he painstakingly excavated never succeeded in upsetting 
the legendary one. Any legend inmiune to rational arguments can 
be supposed to rest upon powerful collective desires. The spurious 
Frederick obviously conformed to psychological dispositions wide- 
spread among the people. This accounts for the symptomatic value 
of the Fridericus films — ^to be more precise, of the elaborate pattern 
of inner existence implied by them. 

Throughout the Fridericus series the psychological course lead- 
ing from the rebellion of the crown prince to his final submission is 
strongly emphasized. It was a theme, or rather a complex of themes, 
long familiar to the Germans. Kleist's Prim Friedrich von Horn- 
burg had dealt with the conflict between the individual's moral right 
to unauthorized initiative and his moral duty to submit to the 
authority of the state. Then, following the example of Wedekind's 
Fruhlmgs Erwachen {The Awakening of Spring, 1891), several 
early expressionist dramas had advocated the rebellion of the son 
against the father, and at about the same time a whole generation 
of young Germans had set out to practice this rebellion in the form 
of the idealistic Youth Movement.^ In stressing the development 
from rebellion to submission, the Fridericus films adapted themselves 
to current circxnnstances. Owing to the postwar revolutionary situa- 
tion, the masses were not ready to believe unhesitatingly in the 
necessity for authoritarian behavior. All Fridericus films therefore 
resorted to a detour. They began by sanctioning rebellious, if not 
revolutionary, conduct so as to captivate the minds in tuimoil; but 
they did so only to pass off this conduct as the first stage of an 
evolution in the course of which it would have to be suppressed. The 
son's rebellion, which in the expressionist dramas prepared the 

» Cf. English translation: Hegemann, Frederick the Great, London, 1929. 
For the father-son conflict in early expressionism, see Hain, Studisn, pp. 88-86. 
For the German Youth Movement, see Weniger, *'Die Jugendbewegung," Geiat der 
Gegenwart, pp. 1-.64.— See also Enkson, "Hitler's Imagery . . ,» Psuchiatry, Nov. 



ground for the "new man," was here to increase the father's sov- 
ereignty. These fihns presented the rebel as the pupa of the dic- 
tator, and approved of anarchy inasmuch as it made authority 
desirable. They offered a way out of the dilemma between chaos and 
tyranny by transforming the dilemma itself into an evolutionary 
process — a process including rebellion as a legitimate phase. This 
legalization undoubtedly served to repress the old trauma of the 
unsuccessful bourgeois revolution, which now more than ever before 
was bound to haunt the collective mind. The reality of a rebellion in- 
corporated into the system of social life could not but overshadow 
that trauma. What the screen postulated came true in life. In the 
postwar period, the Youth Movement developed from a spontaneous 
uprising into an officially confirmed institution, which rapidly dis- 
integrated, parts of it being absorbed by the existent political and 
religious groups. As if to demonstrate their instinctive desire to do 
away with the traumatic image of the revolution, many genuine 
followers of the Movement were to join the marching Nazi colunms. 

The moral of the Fridericus fihns was to submit unconditionally 
to absolute authority. Here a contradiction arises. On the one hand, 
a majority of Germans — ^in particular middle-class Germans — ^tried 
to fend off socialist notions by insisting upon the idealistic concept 
of the autonomous individual. On the other hand, the same people 
were keen on giving up individual autonomy in favor of total depend- 
ence upon an autocratic ruler, provided, of course, that he prevent 
any encroachments on private property. Provoked by interest in 
safeguarding vital privileges, this paradox seemed unavoidable. 
There remained only one way to preserve a semblance of self- 
determination while actually relinquishing it : one could participate 
in the ruler's glory and thus drown the consciousness of one's submis- 
sion to him. The halo of glamour surrounding the screen Frederick 
lured the audience into acts of identification with this supergenius. 

Since all those who, consciously or not, adopted the pattern of 
the Fridericus films did so in a period in which they were offered a 
unique chance of freedom, their renunciation of individual autonomy 
was tantamount to a grave retrogression — ^no doubt the gravest since 
the unification of Germany. Even though it was by no means a 
foregone conclusion that the price of a mature acceptance of de- 
mocracy would be the loss of their social status, they preferred to 
fall back on a state of immaturity. The Fridericus films not only 
played up the old king's solitude in a juvenile manner — recalling 



the mountain films' exaltation of some lonely mountaineer on a 
lofty peak — ^but also testified to the inferiority complex bound up 
with retrogressive behavior. Feelings of inferiority expressed them- 
selves through the aggrandizement of Frederick's power politics 
as well as through the depreciation of Voltaire's significance. 
Episodes showing Voltaire in Frederick's company were inserted 
in Fridericus Rex and several other films of the series. Besides 
distorting the facts, these episodes stressed his depravity rather 
than his superiority; the Voltaire they set up seemed designed to 
intimate the decay of French civilization and to justify the resent- 
ment of an authoritarian-minded public against enlightening reason. 

The other standard film suggesting authoritarian behavior was 
Ufa's Die Strasse (The Street, 1923). That it was a nonpoUtical 
avant-garde product indicates that the moral implications of 
Frddericus Rex did not appeal merely to those who applauded its 
political propositions. The Street sprang from the same deep psy- 
chological layers as the films by Carl Mayer or the genuine expres- 
sionist films. Karl Grune, a former Reinhardt disciple, who was its 
script writer and director in one, has himself told how he happened 
to discover the cinema. The vicissitudes of the war had forced him to 
live for long years among foreign soldiers ; but, instead of learning 
their language, he had simply watched their gestures and faces 
so as to become familiar with their intentions. His experiences 
aroused his desire to develop on the screen a pictorial language as 
communicative as the spoken one."' This may help explain why 
The Street, made completely without titles, was particularly rich 
in significant pictures. It ingratiated itself with a rather broad 
public composed mainly of intellectuals. 

Exactly like the first half of Friderictts Rex, Grune's simple 
story illustrates development from rebellion to submission. It starts 
in a dim plush parlor sheltering a middle-class, middle-aged philis- 
tine, who desperately longs for the sensations and splendors of the 
nocturnal city. His wife enters with the soup tureen, and as if this 
ritual action has impressed upon him the infinite monotony of his 
existence, he suddenly runs away. The street engulfs the would-be 
rebel. A prostitute lures him into a night-club, done in inflation style, 
and there introduces him to two "friends" : her souteneur and his 
chum. While they start gulling him, a provincial bourgeois naYvely 

Vincent, Eistoire de VArt OinSmatographique, p. 160. 



exhibiting his wallet swollen with banknotes joins the party. Both 
he and the rebellious philistine are predestined to be plucked. The 
subsequent episodes — ^among them a game of cards with beautifully 
lit close-ups of the assembled faces — result in a terrible showdown : 
the two criminals kill the provincial and, using the prostitute as bait, 
contrive to make the man from the plush parlor appear the mur- 
derer. At the police station, the man proves so helpless that he does 
not even think of asserting his innocence ; he simply succumbs to his 
despair and, left alone in a cell, tries to end his life. Owing to the 
real murderer's confession, this second attempt to run away is frus- 
trated. Released, the man staggers along the street, which at dawn 
is a vacuum, except for scraps of waste paper occasionally stirred 
by the wind. When he reappears in the parlor, his wife silently puts 
the warmed-up soup on the table. And the man now willingly sub- 
mits to the domestic regime, including all soups to come. The street 
calls him no longer. It is as if he considered the ordeal he has 
undergone a well-deserved punishment for his vain rebellion.^ 

The staging is of interest in that it manifests two different inten- 
tions of style.® In the conception of the philistine, for instance, ex- 
pressionist mentality still predominates. Eugen Klopf er moves about 
in this part like a somnambulist, and whenever he expresses joy, 
bewilderment or horror, his gestures seem to be determined by hal- 
lucinations rather than by actual experiences. These gestures would 
undoubtedly appear less exaggerated if, as in the case of Camgari, 
the whole film were nothing but an outward projection of inner 
events. However, realistic designs interfere with the expressionist 
ones. Far from being a sheer fantasy or a- forthright psychological 
construction, the plot is an episode of everyday life handled in an 
almost realistic spirit. This spirit also animates the settings — they 
awkwardly endeavor to give the impression of normal surroundings 
— and moreover transforms the characters, except for the philistine, 
into individuals who, notwithstanding their lack of names, might 
well exist outside the picture frame. Here a realism breaks through 
which has nothing in common with the cheap realism of conventional 
productions; it is a militant realism challenging the penchant for 
introspection. The rise of this realistic tendency in The Street 
clearly indicates that the general retreat into a shell, symptomatic 

» Program brochure to the film; "The Street," National Board of Bevtev) Maga- 
zine, June 1927, p. 9. 

» Kurtz, Expressioniavrmff, p. 128; Jahier, "42 Ans de Cinema," L$ Itdle in- 
teUecPuel du Cinimat pp. 62-68. 


of the postwar period, was about to be revoked. It was as if with 
the acceptance of the formula "From rebellion to submission" that 
retreat had attained its aim, and as if now that the process of inner 
adjustment had come to a close the collective soul desired to resume 
contact with outer reality. 

Various pictorial devices help to characterize the street into 
which the rebellious philistine ventures as a jungle swept by un- 
accountable instincts. At the beginning, when the man stiU lingers 
in his plush parlor, the ceiling becomes luminous with lights reflect- 
ing those of the street outside the window ; they herald the street, 
and he nostalgically watches their display above him. In this famous 
scene light assumes exactly the same function as in Carl Mayer's 
instinct films : its iridescent fluctuations symbolize the irrational al- 
ternations in the sphere of instinctive life. The excited man goes 
to the window and, looking out, sees — ^not the street itself, but a 
hallucinated street. Shots of rushing cars, fireworks and crowds 
form, along with shots taken from a speeding roller coaster, a con- 
fusing whole, made still more confusing by the use of multiple 
exposures and the insertion of transparent close-ups of a circus 
clown, a woman and an organ-grinder.^*^ Through this ingeniously 
cut montage sequence the street is defined as a sort of fair, that is, 
as the region of chaos. The circle usually serving as a symbol of 
chaos has yielded to the straight line of a city street; since chaos 
here is not so much an end in itself as a passage ending in the realm 
of authority, this change of symbols is well-founded. 

On the street itself, all kinds of objects take on life, awakened, 
as in Carl Mayer's films, by the presence of instinct-possessed beings. 
A wavy line on the pavement — ^it carries the same meaning as tiie 
oscillating light on the ceiling — ^tempts the man to follow its course, 
and the two intermittently glowing eyes of an optician's shop ahnost 
frighten him into retreat, as if they were the eyes of an invisible 
bogey [lUus. 21]. For the first time on the German screen window- 
dressings participate in the action. The man gazes through an art- 
shop window at nudities that make him dream of ideal beauty, and 
then, transported by his dreams, sails to faraway countries aboard 
the ship model in a nearby travel agency. 

Instead of acknowledging the values of anarchical life, the film 
deprecates this life by marking the street as a region where the law 
of the jungle rules and happiness is sought in gambling and in futile 

»o Cf. Wtsse, Gronmacht Pihn, pp. 229-32. 



sex affairs. This verdict on anarchy goes hand in hand with the 
glorification of the police. One scene, destined to reappear in many 
a film to come, is very significant. While ever-new waves of vehicles 
hurl onwards, a little child, lost in the crowd, sets out to cross the 
street. With an imperious gesture a policeman stops the waves and, 
like Moses leading the Jews across the Red Sea, pilots the child 
safely through the petrified traffic. Then hell breaks loose anew, 
submerging the miraculous lane. Again it is the police who reveal 
the terrified philistine's innocence and send him back home. What 
a change of concepts since CaligariI Whereas Caligari scoffs at 
the police to stigmatize official authority, here just and wise author- 
ity realizes itself through police overpowering the sinister forces of 

In exposing the psychological mechanisms involved in the would- 
be rebel's submission, The Stbeet corroborates the Fridericus films 
to the fuU. Particularly conclusive is the final scene showing the man 
back in his parlor. At this crucial moment, when the slightest reac- 
tion is telling, the man anticipates the gesture of the caf ^-owner in 
New Year's Eve: he rests his head upon his wife's shoulder, and 
she, in turn, caresses his arm as maternally as if he were her child 
[lUus. 22]. The shot does not conceal that he experiences his frus- 
tration with voluptuous masochism and a feeling of inferiority in- 
creased by that of guilt. To these rather familiar traits a new one 
is added: retrogression assumes the character of resignation. When, 
before re-entering his room, the man hesitatingly walks upstairs, 
scattered lights from the street play aU over him, seem to say fare- 
well. The mood of resignation is so conspicuous that it induced an 
American reviewer to formulate the film's moral as follows ; "Better 
stay where you are. Life in the haunts you are unused to, is dan- 
gerous. Romance may always be around the comer, but the effort 
to find it is hardly worth the candle you must bum to light the 
way." This mood is about the opposite of the banal optimism per- 
vading The Other, of 1913. In that old fihn, the lawyer. Dr. Hal- 
lers, returns from his subconscious escapade involving him in criminal 
actions with the pleasant sensation of regaining his normal middle- 
class status; ten years later, in The Street, the return from a 
similar escapade amounts to a sad renunciation of life. The contrast 
between the two kindred films strikingly reveals the rapid decline of 

>iCf. p. 99. 

»3 "The Street," National Board of Review Magazine, June 1927, p. 9. 



the middle class and its determination to deny this decline at any 
cost. Under the given circumstances, the philistine cannot help look- 
ing out for a shining new Fridericus to chase away the sadness from 
his plush parlor. 

The philistine may easily turn into a sort of split personality. 
Just before the war, The Student of Prague had mirrored the 
duality of any liberal under the Kaiser; now The Street fore- 
shadowed a duality provoked by the retrogressive move from rebel- 
lion to submission. Besides resulting in feelings of inferiority and 
the Hke, this particular shift of balance upset the whole inner system 
and, in consequence, favored mental dissociation. The surprising fre- 
quency of dual roles in German films — ^among them Murnau's 
Janus-Faced (1920) mentioned above, Lubitsch's Kohlhiesl's 
Tochter (Kohlhiesl's Daughters, 1920) featuring Henny 
Porten as both the fine lady and her blunt maid, Grune's Die 
Bruder Schellenberg (Two Brothers, 1926) and the world- 
famous Der Kongress tanzt (Congress Dances, 1931) — ^would 
suggest that cases of duality occurred then in real life on a rather 
large scale.^^ And in fact, throughout the whole republican era no 
unbiased observer was able to overlook a phenomenon bearing out 
the screen's ample evidence: the widespread discrepancy between 
theory and practice, thinking and living. Instead of being aware 
of two Faustian souls in his breast, as in the past, the individual was 
dragged in contradictory directions and did not know it. This dis- 
sociation seemed to him only a new facet of the old inner abundance. 
It is probable — a hint of that kind has already been made — ^that the 
middle-class German's reluctance to emancipate himself originated 
in the fear of losing not only his social privileges, but also those 
multifaceted potentialities he thought he had discovered within 

Derivative of the street theme are a number of aesthetically 
valuable films which, notwithstanding substantial differences, have 
one motif in common: in aU of them the leading character breaks 
away from the social conventions to grasp life, but the conventions 
prove stronger than the rebel and force him into either submission 
or suicide. However inconspicuous a role this motif may play in the 
films under consideration, its frequency corroborates what can be 

^3 For Jantts-Faced, see p. 78 ; for Congress Dances, p. 208. Cf, Kalbus, Deutsche 
Filmkunst, I, 115. 
1* Cf. p. 60. 



inferred from the figures of Frederick and the philistine : that pow- 
erful collective dispositions urged the resumption of authoritarian 

As early as 1920, the motif began its screen career in Von 
MoRGEKS BIS MiTTERNACHT (From Morn TO Midnight), an ex- 
pressionist experiment fashioned after Georg Kaiser's play of that 
title and reportedly shown in no country other than Japan. In it, 
the philistine of The Street is anticipated in the character of a 
teller, who in his desire to exchange everyday life for something great 
and beautiful wastes the money of his bank on prostitutes and in 
night-clubs, and at the end, disappointed, kills himself to escape the 
police.^* Murnau, too, was infatuated with the motif. In his Phan- 
tom (1922) — a screen version of a novel by Gerhart Hauptmann — 
a humble town clerk longs to become a famous poet and marry 
a charming girl he has seen driving past him in a pony-drawn 
phaeton. Possessed by his longing, he sleeps with a prostitute re- 
sembling the unattainable girl and sinks ever deeper, until in the 
solitude of his prison cell he learns to renounce all phantoms. Mur- 
nau's film reached its pictorial climax with a montage sequence that 
fused street impressions into a vision of chaos. 

These dispositions asserted themselves in places and on occasions where no 
one would have suspected them. In 1919, Max Weber, who after the armistice had 
joined the staff of Frankfurter Zeitwtg to help prepare a German democracy, went to 
Versailles and then paid a visit to General Ludendorff, trying to persuade him that 
he must deliver himself up to the Allies. Ludendorfif refused. Their subsequent 
dialogue, quoted from Meyer Schapiro's article **A Note on Max Weber's Politics" 
(Politics, Feb. 1946, p. 44), confirms the testimony of all these authoritarian-minded 

LudendorfF: "There's your fine democracy! You and the Frankfurter Zeittmg 
are responsible for Itl What good has come of it?** 

Weber: ''Do you believe thto that I consider the mess we are in now democracy?" 
L.: "If that's how you talk,' perhaps we can come to an understanding." 
W.: "But the mess before was also no monarchy." 
L,: "What do you understand then by democracy?" 

W.: **In a democracy the people elects the leader (FHkrer) whom it trusts. Then 
the elected one says: *Now shut up and obey. People and parties must no longer 
butt in.' " 

L.: "Such 'democracy' is aU right with me." 

W.j "Afterwards the people can judge— if the leader has made mistakes, to the 
gallows with him!" 

Max Weber was quite able to foresee that first the people would be sent to the 
gallows by their leader. But his intrinsic urges apparently interfered with his 
sociological judgment — See also Kurtss, Expressionismus, p. 12. 

« Kurtz, ibid^ pp. IS-IT, 69-70; Zaddach, Der literarische Film, p. 89; Bcrstl, 
ed., £S Jahre Berliner Theater, p. 94.— The motif under consideration also asserted 
itself in Berthold Viertd's fantastic film Die P«BatcK£ (The Wig, 1928?). 

Program brochure to the film; Jahrbueh der Filmindustrie, 1922/8, p. 41 ; Deela- 
Biosccp Verleih-Profframme, p. 18; Wcssc, Orostmaeht Film, pp. 182-85; Baldzs, Der 
sichtbare Mensch, p. 85. 



In 1923, Lubitsch took over. He promoted the motif in Dee 
Flamme (Montmartre), which, laid in last-century Paris, nar- 
rated the love affair between a naive young composer and a cocotte 
with a pure soul. The composer leaves his austere mother for the 
cocotte, but since he fails to leave his bourgeois inhibitions behind, 
his new life turns into a troublesome adventure from which he peni- 
tently flees back to his loving mother. The original version ends with 
the cocotte throwing herself out of the window with the words : "The 
street calls me." One genuine "Lubitsch touch" was the scene in 
which the cocotte prepared her brothel room for the composer's first 
visit by shifting the furniture so that the room suddenly looked as 
respectable as he then believed her to be.^^ 

The motif reappeared in Nju (Husbands or Lovers 1924), 
a psychological study based upon a play by Ossip Dimov. It was 
Paul Czinner's first film with Elisabeth Bergner, who played in it 
a married woman hungry for love. The action begins with a stranger 
(Conrad Vcidt) gazing up from the street to her window. Enticed 
by him, she parts with husband and child, and moves into a fur- 
nished room, which seems to her a paradise compared to her home ; 
but after a while the stranger tires of the paradise and his mistress, 
and bluntly advises her to return to her husband. In her desolation, 
she prefers to drown herself. Finally, the stranger is seen standing 
in her furnished room, while an old charwoman cleans it for the 
subsequent lodger. The whole film breathed a sadness surpassing 
that of The Street. It was as if hope had deserted the world of the 
middle-class home as well as the middle-class rebel's enchanted street 
world : at home, Emil Jannings as the vulgar husband walked about 
with his suspenders hanging down, and the street merely led from a 
furnished room to the river.^^ 

The motif materialized yet again in Vari]6t:6 (Variety), re- 
leased toward the end of 1925 — ^that year which marked the rise of a 
realistic-minded era. Even though this world-renowned music-hall 
film indulged in the new realism, it still radiated the spirit of bygone 
days. Variett was a belated product of the postwar period, an end 
rather than a beginning. 

The film, made after a popular prewar novel by Felix Hollander, 

Z7/a Verleih-Programme, 1928/4, pp. 48-filj Kalbus, Deutsche Filmkunstt I, 
60; Balizs, Der Hohtbare Menech, p. 104; "Montmartre," Exceptional Photo flay 8, 
Feb.-March 1924, p. 5j Berstl, ed., S5 Jahre Berliner Theater^ p. 98. 

i» Publicity sheet to the film; Film Society Programme, Feb. 14, 1926; Weinberg, 
Scrapbooks, 1927; Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 195; Leprohon, **Le Cin&na AUemanctj" 
Le Bouge et le Noir, Jvly 1928, p. 142. 



opens with a sequence inside a penitentiary. Emil Jannings as "Boss-" 
Huller has been pardoned before the end of his prison term, and 
now agrees to tell the prison director the story of his crime. This 
prefacing sequence is significant in that it emphasizes Huller*s ulti- 
mate submission. At the outset of the story proper, Huller is run- 
ning a shabby show in an amusement park, but neither that nor his 
faded wife can compensate for the sensations he had once experi- 
enced as a trapeze artist. One day, a sailor brings Huller a girl from 
a remote southern country. Huller hires her, and soon her sensuous 
beauty stirs him to rebel against his humdrum existence. He runs 
away with her. While they are working on the trapeze in a Berlin 
fair, Artinelli, a music-hall artist of international reputation, ap- 
proaches the couple to engage them for the Berlin Wintergarten. 
They act as his partners when he performs a triple somersault 
blindfolded. Fatally, Artinelli and the girl extend their partnership 
into leisure time between the performances. No sooner does Huller 
learn of the girl's betrayal, than he turns into one of those instinct- 
possessed characters who destroy each other so eagerly in the films 
of Carl Mayer. A reincarnation of the trackwalker in Shattered,^^ 
he kills Artinelli and surrenders to the police. Here the flashback 
ends. In the final scene, the prison gates open symbolically before 
Huller ; but nothing indicates that, in stepping out of them, he will 
be freed from the prison of his self .^^ The plot confines itself to inter- 
weaving the motif of rebellion and submission with the familiar 
theme of the instinct dramas in a rather banal manner. 

Nevertheless, Variett aroused a "white heat of enthusiasm" 
among American moviegoers.^^ The film, as Harry Alan Potamkin 
puts it, "burnt its way through these United States and came near 
demoralizing the matter-of-fact technique of Holljnvood." Ac- 
customed to that matter-of-fact technique, the American public 
may have been struck by the intensity everyday life assumed in 
Varxety. Such accustomed settings as a music hall, a caf^ and a 
stuffy hotel corridor seemed to glow from within. It was as if one 
had never before seen these commonplace surroundings. 

E. A. Dupont had staged Variety under Erich Pommer's in- 

30 Cf. p. 98. 

Weinberg, Scrapbooks, 1926-57,' Moussinac, Panoramique du Cin4ma, pp. 49-60. 

Quoted from Jacobs, American Film, p. 807. 
33 Potamkin, "The Rise and Fall of the German Film," Cinema, April 1980, 
p. 24. For the influence of the German school in this country, see Jacobs, American 
Film, pp. 831-82, and "Die entfesselte Kamera," Ufa-Maffozin, March 25-31, 1927. 



spiring supervision.^^ Dupont was not an innovator, but he was a 
brilliant adaptor. Assisted by Karl Preund, the cameraman of The 
Last Laugh, he adapted the methods of the expressionist postwar 
period to the exigencies of the realistic Dawes Plan period. (Traces 
of expressionism can still be found in the framing prison scenes of 
Variety,) Dupont's achievement lay in that, in shaping his music- 
hall film, he penetrated outer reality by means of devices used origi- 
nally in the outward projection of inner reality. This transplanting 
of techniques had, of course, amazing results. It has been rightly ob- 
served that in Variett the actors seem to be unaware of the pres- 
ence of the camera; Jannings' bulky back, for instance, plays as 
conspicuous a part as any close-up of his face [lUus. 23]. Such 
truth to reality could hardly be achieved without the incessant 
camera movements typical of this film; for they alone enable the 
spectator to break into the magic circle of the action. Led by the 
inquisitive camera, he rushes through space as if he were one of the 
trapeze artists, sneaks about rooms full of tension, identifies him- 
self with Artinelli when he lies in wait for the girl, and spies on her 
hasty endeavor to renew her make-up before rejoining Jannings 
[lUus. 24]. Unusual camera angles, multiple exposures and saga- 
cious transitions help transport the spectator to the heart of the 
events.^® Thus Dupont superseded the conventional realism of the 
past by a realism that captured along with visible phenomena the 
psychological processes below their surface. However, nothing he 
offered was essentially new. Psychological ubiquity as well as fluidity 
of pictorial narration : all sprang from The Last Lattgh.^"^ Vabiett 
was a derivative of this fundamental film ; it resumed in the realistic 
sphere what The Last Laugh had accomplished in the sphere of 

Numerous less important films of the postwar period have al- 

**For Dupont and his first film. Das alte Gesetz (The As-ciEinp Law, 1928), 
see Vincent, Bistoire de VArt Cin4matoffraphiquet p. 167 j Museum of Modem Art 
Library, clipping files. 

Moussinac, Pcmoramiqw du CinSma, pp. 51-62; Amheim, FUm als Kunst, 
pp. 68-^9; Vincent, HUtoire de VArt Cindmatographique, pp. 167-58; Leprohon, **Le 
Cin&ua Allemand," Le Bouge et U Noir, July 1928, pp. 188, 141. 

^«Karl Freund himself comments on the camera angles: "In Variety, the unac- 
customed angle was stressed by necessity, owing to cramped quarters in the Berlin 
Winter Palace, where the picture was made, and this film, curiously enough, was an 
original source-book of the lying-on-the-stomach school of photography, which has 
today reached the proportions of a national craze." Quoted from B. C. Crisler, *The 
Friendly Mr. Freund," New York Times, Nov. 21, 1987. 

27 Cf. p. 105 f. 



ready been mentioned. It remains to complete their survey. The need 
for adaptations was so urgent that even Hermann Bang's esoteric 
novel Michael was made into a fihn — ^perhaps because of its tinge 
of homosexuality (Michael, 1924).^^ Rather frequent were such 
films as Die Liebesbriepe der Baronin S. (The Love Letters 
OF Baroness S., 1924) and Komodie des Herzens (Comedy op 
THE Heart, 1924), which offered a convenient mixture of love life 
and society life. Harry Piel thrillers, detective films with Ernst 
Reicher as Stuart Webbs, Ossi Oswalda comedies and Henny Porten 
dramas were institutions.'^^ Outshining all these stars, Asta Nielsen 
played characters ennobled by love, with an intensity that made one 
ignore the affinity of her fihns with bad magazine stories. In the 
concluding scenes of Absturz (Downpali., 1923), she was a worn- 
out old woman trying desperately to look young again for her lover 
who was returning from a ten-year prison term ; no one who watched 
her vain attempt will ever forget her acting.^® At the end of the 
inflation period, there was a new vogue of historical pageants and a 
sudden mania for films centering round folk-songs — ^just the right 
thing for small-town people and salesgirls with warm hearts and 
nothing else.^* In a tiny realm of her own, Lotte Reiniger swung 
her scissors diligently, preparing one sweet silhouette film after 

Willy Haas, Skistzen zu MichaeVa Welt, a publicity booklet for the film.— In 
this context, Berthold Viertel's film, Nora (Winter, 1928/4), with Olga Tsche- 
chowa in her first film role, may be mentioned. Cf. Kalbus, Deutsche FUmkunst, I, 72; 
Arnheim, Film al$ Kimat, p. 109; Zaddach, Der literariache FtVm, p. 60. 

For Harry PidL and Ernst Reicher films, see "Die Produktion des Jahres," Daa 
groase BUderhuch dea FUtna, 1926, pp. 168-70. For Henny Porlen films of the time, 
see Porten, "Mein Leben," Vfa-MagasAUi April 22-28, 1927. — Jannings was featured in 
Alues Fua Qzis> (All foe Moxey, 1928); cf. Z7/a Verleih-Programmef 1923/4, 
pp. 62-66. 

««»Cf. Baldzs, Der aiohtbare Menach, pp. 168, 165-67. For the Nielsen film Das 
FEtJEtt (The Fihe, 1924), see Moreck, Stttengaaehiohte, pp. 165-68. 

Among the historical pageants of the time were Helemta (1924), Cahlob und 
Blisabetec (Cablos axo Elisabeth, 1924), and Die SKLAVEKKoxriaxir (Mooar ov Isoael, 
1924). Synopsis of the latter film in TUuatrierter Filmr-Ktirier, For the foregoing films, 
cf. Zaddach, Der Uterariache FUm, pp. 66-66, and Kalbus, Deutaehe FUmkunat, I, 67. 
— Kalbus, ibid., p. 69, lists a number of films featuring folknsong themes as a peculi- 
arity of the year 1924. 

Reiniger, ^Lebende Schatten," FUm^Phoica, pp. 46:^6; Film Society Pro- 
gramme^ Dec. 11, 1927 ; etc 



In 1924, after the mark had been stabilized, Germany accepted the 
Dawes Plan, which arranged for the payment of reparations and 
effected Germany's incorporation into the financial system of the 
Allies. Normal life began to reassert itself, and soon the inflation 
seemed a remote nightmare. This stabilized or Dawes Plan period 
lasted until 1929, when the crash put an end to false prosperity. 
While it lasted, Stresemann embarked upon a clever policy of re- 
habilitation, marked by such successes as the Treaty of Locarno and 
Germany's entrance into the League of Nations. At home, things 
did not look too bad either. Even though the Hitlerites and their 
like tried hard to undermine the "system," as they called the Weimar 
regime, no one would listen to them. The oblivion into which they 
sank resulted not so much from any inner strength of the Republic 
as from an abxindance of foreign loans that helped reduce unemploy- 
ment by engendering feverish activity. 

With the aid of these loans, which were granted to public cor- 
porations, communities and businessmen alike, the German indus- 
trialists modernized and expanded their plants systematically. To- 
wards the end of the stabilized period, Germany commanded an in- 
dustrial apparatus with a capacity far beyond her immediate needs. 
Its creation was bound up with an enormous increase of adminis- 
trative functions. From 1924 to 1928, the number of the employees 
was augmented fivefold, while that of the workers was scarcely 
doubled. The white-collar class developed into an important social 
stratum. Simultaneously, another change took place which contem- 
poraries spoke of as the streamlining of big business {RationaZi- 
sierung der Wirtschaft) : the methods of the assembly line were 
transferred to the workrooms of the administration buildings. This 
meant that with regard to their occupational and economic plight 
innumerable employees were no better off than the workers. Yet 
instead of acknowledging their proletarian existence, they endeav- 




ored to maintain their old middle-class status. Compared to the 
workers with their firm beliefs and hopes, these three and a half 
million employees were mentally shelterless; all the more so as the 
middle class itself had begun to falter. They filled the cities and 
belonged nowhere.^ Considering their crucial position within the 
social structure, much depended upon their reactions. The fihns 
would have to take notice of them. 

From 1924 on, economic exigencies influenced the development 
of the German fihn more directly than in the previous years. To 
understand this a few retrospective remarks are indispensable. Dur- 
ing the inflation, the fihn industry managed to get along without 
serious disturbances. It is true that the domestic market yielded only 
10 per cent of the production costs. However, two circumstances 
compensated for this ruinous situation. First, people eagerly spent 
their money, which was lost anyway, on every pleasure available ; in 
consequence, movie theaters were crowded and even increased in 
number. Secondly, the export of films, much furthered by "dump- 
ing," proved exceedingly lucrative. A Swiss license, which in nor- 
mal times would have amounted to nothing, represented a value 
almost equivalent to the cost of an average film. Tempted by such 
opportunities, numerous unpleasant profiteers squeezed into the fihn 
business, and minor banks readily supported brand-new joint-stock 
companies, whose supervisory boards usually included some Excel- 
lency highly paid for the attractiveness of his title. Fritz Olimsky 
states in his thesis on German film economics that at that time the 
cultural standards in the film industry were lower than in all other 
industries of similar size.^ This testifies to the relative independence 
of art from its environment; for amidst the weeds there blossomed 
such films as The Street and New Year's Eve. 

No sooner was the mark stabilized than the fihn industry suf- 
fered a severe setback, caused by the sudden discontinuance of all 
exports. It was the so-called stabilization crisis. In 1924 and 1925, 
many new joint-stock companies went bankrupt, and the Excellen- 
cies retired, leaving behind ruined stockholders. The distributors 
felt the blow more than anyone. With box-oflSice receipts dwindling 

^ Cf. Rosenberg, G&schichte der Deutachen Re'pMikt p. 181 ff. ; Schwarzschild, 
World in Trance, pp. 227, 248, 247, 261-62; Samuel and Thomas, BxpresHoniem. in 
German Life, p. 171; Kracauer, Die Ange$t$llten, 

^ Olimsky, Fihnioirtschaft^ p. 28; see also pp. 26-27, 29. Jason, "Zahlen sehen uns 
an . . Jdhre Kinematograph, p. 68. 



and the banks demanding exorbitant rates of interest, the surviving 
film companies hardly knew where to turn.^ But man's extremity 
is God's opportunity. God in this case was Hollywood. 

The big Hollywood industrialists recognized that after the re- 
establishment of the gold standard in Germany the German market 
would offer them pleasant possibilities. They were determined to step 
in, and began flooding Germany with American pictures. In the 
course of this large-scale invasion, they not only founded their own 
distributing agencies there, but also purchased big German movie 
theaters and even built several new ones. To stem the flood, the 
German government decreed that for every foreign film released a 
German film should be produced. But this decree had quite an un- 
expected effect: it gave rise to the widespread species of "quota 
films" (Kontingentftlme) . Many a quota film was never released, its 
sole reason for existence being the acquisition of a "quota certificate" 
(Kcmtingentschein) that would authorize its holder to import a for- 
eign picture. In the caf 6s where the film agents met, these certificates 
were traded like stocks. Of course, the Americans had a vital interest 
in getting as many certificates as possible ; they therefore produced 
their own quota films in Germany, and in addition financed or bought 
up a number of German film companies. No doubt, these methods of 
infiltration were unscrupulous, but they did enable the native film 
industry to surmount a perilous crisis.'* 

The case of Ufa illustrates the whole situation. In 1925, Ufa 
was in such a lamentable predicament that it would have failed with- 
out the intervention of Paramount and Loew's Inc. (Metro-Gold- 
wyn) . The two Hollywood companies urged Ufa to sign the so-called 
"Parufamet agreement," which provided that in return for a con- 
siderable loan Ufa should put its quota certificates as well as its 
numerous movie theaters at the disposal of the American creditors. 
These terms proved the more disastrous as, with the millions it 
acquired, Ufa had not only to fulfill its new obligations but also 
to liquidate its old debt to the Deutsche Bank. In 1927, as a result 
of both external pressure and internal mismanagement, Ufa was 
again on the verge of ruin. Then Hugenberg came to its rescue — 
Hugenberg, the Prussian conservative and reactionary, who through 

3 Olimsky, FUmtnrUchaft, p. 80. 

* Olimsky, ibid,, pp. 43-46, 54-55; Jason, "Zahlen sehen uns an . . S5 Jahre 
Kifiematoffraphf pp. 68-69; Neumann, Film-'Kunst/ p. 60; Fawcett, Die Welt det 
Films, p. 121; Berr, **Etat du Cin^a 1981: Etats-Unis et Allemagne," Revue dM 
Cin4ma, July 1981, p. 50. 


the newspapers in his possession controlled a vast domain of public 
opinion. He wanted to extend his influence by swallowing the leading 
German film company. After the ensuing revision of the Parufamet 
agreement, Ufa was free to become a propaganda instrument in 
Hugenberg's hands. Yet as long as the Republic seemed firmly 
established, Hugenberg neither utDized this instrument to the full 
nor even expected all Ufa executives to share his views.** He was 
also a businessman, after all. This does not mean that the Hugenberg 
Ufa took a liking to the democratic ways of life. It merely chose to 
obstruct them under the mask of neutrality. 

Occasionally, the mask covering reactionary behind-the-scenes 
activities was lifted. In 1927, when Phoebus went bankrupt, the 
public learned that this important fihn company had been financed, 
and ruled, by a certain Captain Lohmann. And the republican and 
leftist press revealed that his money had come from — ^the secret 
funds of the Reichswehr. The Phoebus affair turned into a Reichs- 
wehr scandal, and for a moment the smoldering conspiracy of the 
militarists seemed seriously compromised. It was not, of course. 
Hindenburg fired the democrat Gessler, until then in charge of the 
Reichswehr ministry, and appointed General Groener in his place. 
And there the matter ended.® 

With the commencement of the Dawes Plan period the character 
of the German fihn changed markedly. Now that life had resumed 
normal aspects and social revolution was no longer impending, the 
fantastic figures and unreal settings of the postwar screen dissolved 
into thin air like the vampire in Nosferattj. To be sure, studio- 
minded products persisted long after 1924."^ But on the whole the 
films of the stabilized period turned towards the outer world, shifting 
the emphasis from apparitions to actual appearances, from imagi- 
nary landscapes to natural surroundings. They were essentially 

A change in aesthetic standards took place also. Compared to the 
postwar films those of the stabilized period were aesthetically dubi- 
ous. "The true German fihn died quietly," Paul Rotha comments on 

»Oamsky, FilmwirUohafty pp. 29-80; Fawcett, Die Welt des Films, pp. 122 -2C; 
Schwarzschild, World in Trance, p. 288; Schlesinger, "Das moderne deutsche Licht- 
spiel-theater," Das grosse Bilderhwsht 1926, p. 28. 

e Rosenberg, QescMcUe der Dsutschm Republik, p. 212; see also New York 
Times, from Berlin, Aug. 9, 1927 (clipping in Weinberg, Scraphooks, 1927). 

''Cf. Potamkin, **The Rise and Fall of the German Film," Cinema, April 1930, 
p. 26. 



the output after Vabiett.^ Observers were unanimous in remarking 
this decline. The problem is how to explain it. 

One explanation offered is the exodus of many prominent Ger- 
man film artists and technicians about the middle of the twenties. 
Hollywood bought them up, as it did other foreign talents. Among 
the first to answer the call were Lubitsch, Pola Negri, Hans Kraly 
and Buchowetski. In 1925 and 1926 they were joined by a whole 
crowd, including the star directors E. A. Dupont, Ludwig Berger, 
Lupu Pick, Paul Leni and Mumau, and such actors as Veidt and 
Jannings. Erich Pommer, too, could not resist the temptation. 
There is no doubt that Hollywood eflFected this wholesale importa- 
tion not solely to heighten its own standards; the main idea was to 
eliminate a competitor extremely dangerous at the time.^ But much 
as the mass desertions added to the diflSculties of the German screen, 
they did not cause its decline. This can be evidenced by the fact that, 
after the mark was stabilized, several brilliant directors of the post- 
war period — among them Mumau and Lang — wasted their crafts- 
manship on insignificant products. Murnau then left Germany, but 
Lang stayed at home, and new talents also began to emerge. The 
decline was not due to the lack of talent; rather, many a talent 
declined for reasons stiU to be explored. 

Another explanation has been found in the tendency, then wide- 
spread, to "Americanize'* the German film. This tendency flowed 
from the need to export. Since Hollywood seemed to have discovered 
the secret of pleasing all the world, the German producers dreamed 
of imitating what they believed to be the genuine Hollywood manner. 
The result was pitiful. And yet when G, W. Pabst, outstanding 
figure among the film directors of the stabilized period, was obliged to 
film his Dee Liebe der Jeanne Net (The Love of Jeanne Net) 
in the American style, he succeeded in making it a fascinating pic- 
ture.^^ The decline cannot be attributed to the penchant for films 
after the current Hollywood manner. Even though this penchant 
may well have accelerated the decline, it was nothing more than one 
of its symptoms. 

The attempt at Americanization went hand in hand with an effort 

« Rotha, Film Till Now, pp. 176, 181. 

«Rotha, ibid., pp. 80, 204; Jacobs, American FUm, pp. 806-8; Vincent, Bistoire 
de VArt CinSmatoffraphiquef p. 161; Olimsky, Filmwirtschaft, p. 43; Barry, Program 
Notes, Series III, program 2; Kalbus, Deutsche Filmkumt, II, 98. 

10 MacPherson, "Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney,'* Close Up, Dec 192T, p. 18. See also 
Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 208. 



to internationalize the German film business. Franco-German and 
Anglo-German alliances prospered during that period. They de- 
voted themselves to joint productions, which as a rule indulged in 
a shallow cosmopolitanism. Most of them — ^including such exceptions 
as Renoir's Nana and Feyder's Th^rese Raquin — ^were shot in the 
German studios because of the superior technical resources there. 
Neubabelsberg, Staaken and Geiselgasteig became the favorite meet- 
ing-places of international teams.^^ Since the German film industry 
also admitted numerous foreigners among its personnel, several ob- 
servers have come to believe that the decline of the German screen 
was caused by a process of ^^denationalization." In his Histoire du 
Cmema, Robert Brasillach— -the French collaborationist executed in 
February 1945 — denounces a "host of rascals of dubious national- 
ity" as the ultimate source of all evils. A certain Rene J eanne is even 
more precise ; he blames "the Jews and the aliens" for the prepon- 
derance of German films that lost all "German character." The 
"German character" must have been exhausted, then, if it would 
simply yield to a handful of parasites. But the whole argument is 
unfounded, for in their concern with racial discrimination Brasil- 
lach and his like have overlooked a few weighty facts. Without the 
Austrian Jew Carl Mayer the German film would never have come 
into its own. The Viennese Fritz Lang, no pure Aryan either, made 
films so truly German that even Hitler admired them, and he was 
a connoisseur. It has also been seen that during the inflation, when 
a "host of I'ascals" meddled in all film matters, the German screen 
was far from declining artistically. 

Nor can the decline after 1924} be traced to those legal provisions 
which called forth the multitude of cheap "quota films." These films 
had characteristics in conmion with many an expensive superpro- 
duction. And on the other hand, Ruttmann's Berxht, one of the 
most remarkable achievements of the period, was made as a quota 
film for Fox Europe. 

As Harry A. Potamkin puts it, "the real cause of the decline 
is an interior one." Modes of inner existence brought about the 
grandeur of the German screen throughout the postwar era; they 
also were responsible for its misery in subsequent years. As impor- 

**Rotha, ibid., p. 182 j Fawcett, Die Welt des Films, pp. 128-29 j Vincent, Mis- 
toire de VArt Cinimatogrwphique, p. 162. 

13 Bardfeche and Brasillach, Bistory of Motion Pictwresj pp. 268-59 ; Jeanne, "I^e 
Cinema Allemand," L'Art CiiUmatogra'phique, VIII, 46. 

*3 Potamkin, **The Rise and Fall of the German Fihn," Cinema, April 1980, p. 26. 



tant postwar films testify, the outcome of the desperate struggle 
for psychological adjustment was a general strengthening of the 
old authoritarian tendencies. The masses, that is, were basically 
authoritarian-minded when they entered the stabilized period. But 
the republican regime of the period rested upon democratic prin- 
ciples that repudiated those mass tendencies. Prevented from finding 
an outlet and yet too persistent ta yield, authoritarian dispositions 
fell into a state of paralysis. This naturally affected the whole of 
the collective mind. Instead of breathing life into the republican 
institutions, the masses drained themselves of life. They preferred 
the neutralization of their primary impulses to the transformation 
of these impulses. The decline of the German screen is nothing but 
the reflection of a widespread inner paralysis. 


The films o£ the stabilized period can be divided into three groups. 
The first simply testifies to the existence of a state of paralysis. The 
second group sheds light on the tendencies and notions that are 
paralyzed. The third reveals the inner workings of the paralyzed 
collective soul. 

The innumerable films of the first group form the main bulk of 
the whole output. Whether quota films or not, they never advanced 
anything that could disturb the fragile peace of the republican 
regime. Nor did they take sides with the regime emphatically. To 
them the "system" was a matter of indifference, and even if they 
went so far as to justify its capitalistic structure and the ways of the 
rich, they did so in a superficial, lukewarm manner. This kind of 
indifference is their chief characteristic. They avoid touching upon 
any essentials, except in a few instances where they infallibly blur 
the issues. Apart from such stray attempts at profundity, these 
filTns appear to be concerned merdy with doling out entertainment 
in an atmosphere of neutrality. They seem cut off from all inner 
roots. The emotional grounds are frozen. 

Undeniably, most American and Prench films of the time were 
in a similar vein. But in the wake of Locarno it was natural for 
conditions in all countries involved to approximate each other. And 
since the strange character of the German postwar screen and the 
suddenness of its decline are symptoms of a unique development, 
resemblances between German and foreign films should not be over- 
rated. They were surface resemblances, produced in the case of 
Germany by the paralysis of primary impulses. Below the surface, 
these impulses persisted. Under such peculiar circumstances many 
German films preserved a character of their own even during these 
years of international complacency. 

Before discussing the fihns of the first group, several series of 
little interest in this context but still part of the record may at least 




be mentioned. The resumption, about 1924, of the immediate postwar 
vogue of sex fihns and adventurous travel films indicates that after 
the stabilization of the mark most people experienced the same 
appetites as after the end of the war.^ Simultaneously, a host of 
military films, rich in barracks humor, dull-witted privates and 
dashing lieutenants, swept across the screen. Drawn from outdated 
prewar novels and plays, they mirrored the average German's con- 
fidence in the return of the normal, which to him was unimaginable 
without a regular army and the sight of uniforms blossoming every- 
where.^ While these film types as mere fashions were too short-lived 
to characterize the period, others failed in the same respect because 
of their perennial nature. The species of mystery films proved in- 
destructible, and now that times had changed attracted even a direc- 
tor like Lupu Pick, who once had known how to arouse less 
ephemeral shudders.* Berlin local comedies featuring the good heart 
and bright wit of the native population also flourished throughout 
the stabilized period and longer; a fixed folk genre, they evolved 
untouched by the course of events.* 

Many films of the group which evidenced society's state of 
paralysis simply ignored social reality. The comedies among them 
pretended to be comedies because they consisted of ingredients usu- 
ally found in comedies. Fred loves Lissy, but does not want to marry 
her. To stir his jealousy, Lissy engages the gigolo Charley to court 
her ostentatiously. Charley on his part hankers after the dancer 
Kitty, and Kitty herself is coveted by the fickle Fred. A double 
wedding uniting the right couples straightens out matters at the very 
last moment. This intrigue, which ran under the title Blitzztig der 
Ldebe (Express Train of Lov^, 1925), roughly illustrates what 
the comedies were like.** They were located nowhere and void of 
genuine life. When they reproduced a French boulevard comedy, the 
framework remained and the spirit evaporated. 

A change of ingredients, and the outcome was dramas as stillborn 
as the comedies. To simulate liveliness, they often resorted to brisk 

1 Cf. **Ufa," Bat grot8» Bilderhueh, 1926, p. 186; Kalbus, Deutsche Filmhuntt, I, 
49} Ufa Verleih'Programme, 1928/4, pp. 66-69. 

^ For the vogue of military films, see Kalbus, Deutsche Filmkunst, I, T7-78. 

^Besides nek's Das Pakzsboewoexbe (The A&scobzd Vault, 1926), Kalbus, 
ibid., pp. 87-88, lists a series of mystery films. 

* Cf. Potamkin, "Kino and Lichtspiel," Close Up, Nov. 1929, p. 896. 

* Synopsis of Expbess Train of Love in Iltustrierter FUm-Kurier. For other 
comedies of the time, see, for instance, ^Les Pr^entations de 1' Alliance Cindmato- 
graphique Europ^nne," Ginia^CinS, April 1927, p. 14 flf.; Buchner, Im Banne des 
FihM, p. 140; **Saucy Suzanne," Close Up, Nov. 1927, pp. 66-66. 



and picturesque surroundings. A circus, for instance, ofFered dwer- 
tissement. But no feat of horsemanship sufficed to make the circus 
fihns breathe. Except, perhaps, for Max Reichmann's Manege 
(1927) with its valid emotional content, they invariably handled the 
stereotyped figures of the clown, the girl and the lover in pure 
cliches.^ The same cliches unfolded within music-hall settings, made 
popular by Dupont's Vabiety. Dupont himself exploited his success 
in Moulin Rouge (1928), which he tried to enliven by means of 
daredevil driving in a racing car and documentary shots of Paris. 
Russian milieus, too, were in vogue. In Heimweh (Homesickness, 
1927), one saw Russian exiles gather in a Paris boardinghoiase and 
listen nostalgically to national folk-songs played on the piano. It 
was an exhibition of sentiment fashioned after a commonplace 
recipe.*^ All these dramas and comedies were manufactured mechani- 

The escapist tendency to which they testified seems to have 
been very strong during those years. A multitude of films owed their 
very existence to outright escapism. The favorite method was to 
metamorphose certain real towns or landscapes into imaginary 
locales where all one's yearnings would be fulfilled. German popular 
songs praised Heidelberg and the Rhine as the eternal playgrounds 
of a youth immersed in love and the joys of life. These songs were 
made into films which differed only with regard to the beverages 
raising tlie spirits. Der erohliche Weinberg (The Gay Vine- 
yard, 1927), based upon Zuckmayer's play of the same title, was a 
record accumulation of moistened throats and amorous hearts.* 
Paris, the city of light, appeared on the screen as a city of neon 
lights and frivolous adventures. When in the Paris films a woman 
feared to lose her inconstant husband, she just disguised herself, 
went to the Moulin Rouge and there captivated the fugitive anew. 

« For MAinsaE, see Kracauer, "Der heutige Film und sein Publikum," Frankfurter 
Zeiiung, Nov. 80, 1928. Other circus films were Loopino the Loor, 1928 (cf. program 
to the film, and Rotha, FUm^ Till JNfov), p. 201) ; Die diiei Codonas (cf. synopsis In 
Illuatrierter Film-ICiirier) ; Die ZniKtTSJ?KiN"45Essiw (mentioned in / ahrbuch der Film' 
Industrie, 1923/25, p. 8T) ; etc. 

'For Mouuir Rouge, see Moussinac, Panoramique du Oindma, pp. 7BJt6i for 
HoMEsicxN-Ess, "Heiuiweh," Close Up, Dec. 1927, pp. 74-T6. Other films featuring 
Russian motifs: Woloa-Woloa (1928), cf. program to the film; Dsa Kumee dbs Zareh 
(The Tsar's ConmEa, 1926), cf. " *Mutterchen* Russland," UforMaffozinf Aug. 27- 
Sept. 2, 1926; Hochvebba* (High Treason-, 1929), cf. "Hochverrat," Film-Maffazitii 
Sept. 29 and Nov. 17, 1929. 

8 Program to The Gay Vin-etard. Kalbus, Deutiche Fthnkunst, I, 78-79, lists 
numerous films based upon popular songs. 


These films had nothing in common with Ren^ Clair's graceful 
screen poems ; rather, they resembled those de luxe "Paris-at-night" 
buses which in prewar times transported packets of sightseers from 
one pleasure spot to another.^ 

The paradise of paradises was Vienna. Any obsolete Viennese 
operetta was dragged to the screen as long as it offered the public 
an opportunity of escaping from the prosaic republican world to 
the days of the late Hapsburg monarchy. Trained in romanticizing 
the past, Ludwig Berger staged Eint Walzertraum (Waltz 
Dream, 1925) after an operetta by Oscar Strauss — one of the few 
German films to become a hit in America. This model film operetta 
not only satirized court life with a charm kindred to Lubitsch's, but 
also established that enchanted Vienna which was to haunt the screen 
from then on.^** Its components were gentle archdukes, tender jKrta- 
tions, baroque decors, Biedermeier rooms, people singing and drink- 
ing in a suburban garden restaurant, J ohann Strauss, Schubert and 
the venerable old Emperor.^^ The persistent image of this retrospec- 
tive Utopia overshadowed the misery of twentieth century Vienna. 
Incidentally, most Fridericus films included episodes with Austrian 
officers who might well have appeared in those Vienna concoctions. 
They were easygoing, music-loving fellows ; the patronizing benevo- 
lence with which they were depicted implied that such effeminate 
enemies would be a pushover. 

Escapist needs determined as well the shape of the docimientary 
fihns — ^the KulturjUme as they were called in Germany. From about 
1924! on, when no other country yet cared much about films of this 
kind, Ufa produced them with a zeal due mainly to economic factors. 
The specific difficulties of the stabilization crisis entailed temporary 
reduction of feature-length entertainment films. The surviving fihn 
companies with Ufa in the lead therefore found it expedient to step 

^ Paris films of this kind: Liebx macht bucitd (Love Makes Ohe Buino, 1925), 
cf. synopsis in lUustrierter FUm^Kwrieri Die Ratte voir Pasis (The Rat op Paxis, 
1925), cf. "Emdka-Ronzern,'' Do* grosse BUderbuoJi, 1926, p. 58; Das Modeli. vojt 
MioKTPAitKAssE (The Model OF MoiTTPAiiKASSE, 1929), cf. "Das Modell von Mont- 
pamasse,*' FUrnrMagazinf April 21, 1929 ; Dee DoscrETOspxEXEa voxr MosmcAETHX (The 
DoMixo PiATER OF MoNKiLAEisu:, 1928), cf. "Commcnl and Review," Close Up, May 
1928, pp. 80-82; Paitame (1927), cf. Weyher, **Wir drehen in Paris,** XJfo^Magazint 
March 25-ai, 1927. 

10 Synopsis in JUwtrierter FUmr-Kwier; Rotha, Film TUl Now, p. 199; Fav7cett, 
Die Welt des FUms, p. 126. Berger also made a Hans Sachs film, Der Meister you 
NuRNBERG (The Masojer op Ntjbembero, 1927) ; cf. program brochure to this film. 

"For film operettas, see Kalbus, Deutsche Filmkunst, I, 82-88; Kracaiier, "Der 
heutige Film und sein Pabllkum," Frankfurter Zeitung, Nor. 80, 1928; etc. 


up the production o£ short subjects^ and in the wake of this develop- 
ment documentaries naturally gained in importance.^^ Perhaps they 
also owed something to the curiosity ahout externals prevalent now 
after years of introspection. 

According to an Ufa brochure of the time, the KuLturfllme in- 
cluded the following items: "The heart at work . . . bundles of 
palpitating nerves . . . ghostly hissing snakes, iridescent beetles 
. . . infusoria . . . rutting deer, sluggishly staring frogs . . . 
Oriental cult rites . , . fire-worshipers and Tibetan monasteries, 
living Buddhas . . . gigantic bridges . . . powerful ships, rail- 
ways, sluices . , . machines . . . colossal mountains, glaciers lumi- 
nous with a bewitching alpenglow . . . Mexico's wild buffalo herds 
, . . nimble-footed Chinese before palanquins, fanning and tea- 
drinking Japanese women lit by Chinese lanterns ... the Neva 
Prospect . . • races in Auteuil . . . confusion of the time. . . 
The adjective-laden prospectus ends with the assertion: "The world 
is beautiful ; its mirror is the KidtwrfUm'^ 

The first Kulturfihn to impress itself upon audiences abroad was 
Ufa's Wege ztj Kraft unb Schonheit (Wats to Health and 
Beatity) — a feature-length documentary, released in 1926 and re- 
issued, one year later, in a somewhat altered version. Made with the 
financial support of the German government, this fihn circulated in 
the schools because of what was considered its educational value. In 
an Ufa publicity pamphlet devoted to its merits, a professional 
eulogist states that Wats to Heai^th and Beaxttt promotes the 
concept of the "regeneration of the human race." As a matter of 
fact, the film simply promoted calisthenics and sport. This was done 
in an omnivorous manner: not content with recording actual achieve- 
ments in the fields of athletics, hygienic gymnastics, rhythmic gym- 
nastics, dancing, and so forth, Ufa resurrected the Roman thermae 
and an antique Greek gynanasium crowded with adolescents posing 
as the contemporaries of Pericles [Blus. 25]. The masquerade was 

Jason, **Zahlen sehea uns an . . IBS Jahre Kinemxtograph, p. 68. 
13 Quoted from "30 Kulturftlme," Ufa-Leih. For Kulturfilme of the time, see 
Jahrbuch der FilmmchMtrie, 1S28/25, pp. 24, 28, 84-87; ThomaUa, 'TDer Kulturfilm," 
Da3 grosse Bilderhueh, 1925 p. 24; Kaufmaim, FUmtechmk wid Kultwt, pp. 26-2Tj 
Film Society FrogramtMS, Dec. 1 and Dec. X4, 1980; "New Educational Films from 
Ufa," Close Sept. 1929, pp. 252-54 ^ "Sllberkondor fiber Feuerland,*' Close Up, 
Dec. 1929, pp. 542-48; Weiss, **The Secret of the Egg-Shell," Close Up, May 1930, 
pp. 421-22 ; etc. The ZulturfilmB are commented upon by Kracauer, *'Der heutige Film 
und sein Publikum," Frankfurter ZeUwig, Nov. 80, 1928. 

Quotation from Hollander, '*The Road to Beauty and Strength," Wege Zfi Kraft 
vnd Schbnheit, p. 50. See also JPtTm Societif Programme^ Not. 18, 1927. 



easy inasmuch as many of the athletes performed stark naked. Of 
course, this sight offended the prudish, but Ufa held that perfect 
bodily beauty was bound to evoke joys of a purely aesthetic order, 
and found its idealism rewarded by good box-office takes. Aestheti- 
cally speaking, the reconstructions of antiquity were tasteless, the 
sport pictures excellent, and the bodily beauties so massed together 
that they affected one neither sensually nor aesthetically. 

Owing to their scientific thoroughness and competent photogra- 
phy, the Ufa Kzdturfihne developed into a German specialty in great 
demand on the international market.^** Yet their workmanship could 
not compensate for their amazing indifference to human problems. 
By passing off calisthenics as a means to regenerate mankind. Ways 
TO Health and Beauty diverted contemporaries from the evils of 
the time which no calisthenics would remedy. All these documen- 
taries excelled in evasiveness. They mirrored the beautiful world; 
but their concern with the beauty of "nimble-footed Chinese before 
palanquins" made them overlook the misery these beautiful coolies 
endured. They mirrored "the confusion of the time"; but instead 
of penetrating the confusion, they gloated over it, thus leaving the 
audience more confused than ever. They spread information on wild 
buffalo herds and fire-worshipers; but their insistence upon exotic 
matters of no use to the spectator enabled them to withhold from 
him any essential information regarding his everyday life. Through 
their escapist neutrality the Ufa KnXturfiLme revealed that their 
submission to the rules of the republican "system" was by no means 
tantamount to true acceptance. 

Not all films refrained from facing social reality. The so-called 
Zille films — ^a species flourishing in 1925 and 1926 — showed them- 
selves much concerned with real-life incidents. Heinrich Zille was a 
Berlin draftsman who, driven by pity for the underdog, specialized 
in portraying the human fauna crowding Berlin's proletarian quar- 
ters. His drawings of undernourished children, workers, wretched 
girls, organ-grinders in ugly backyards, destitute women and non- 
descripts idling away their time enjoyed great popularity among 
the Germans. Gerhart Lamprecht brought these drawings to Hfe 
in Dee Verrtjfenen (Slums or Berun, 1926), which he built 
around personal observations retailed to him by ZiUe. An engineer 
who has committed perjury to shield his fiancee finds himself an 
outcast after leaving prison. Unable to get a job, he attempts sui- 

" Jason, **Zahlen schen ims an . . fSS Jahre Kinematograph, p. 68. 


cide, and is saved by a good-hearted girl who promptly falls in love 
with him. She belongs to a Zille milieu characterized by such figures 
as a kind photographer and a gang of minor criminals. The engineer 
becomes attached to these people and begins to make his living as a 
simple factory worker. Soon he rises again : the factory owner dis- 
covers his talents and promotes him to a socially respectable position. 
To complete the engineer's happiness the good-hearted girl conven- 
iently dies, so that he need feel no compunction about marrying 
the socially respectable sister of the factory owncr.^* 

The formula underlying this plot is compounded of two ingredi- 
ents. On the one hand, the film-makers pretend to tackle the social 
problem by harping on the sufferings of the proletariat; on the 
other, they evade the social problem by giving one particular 
worker (who is not even really of that class) a lucky break. Their 
design is obviously to trick the spectator into the illusion that he, 
too, might be upwardbound, and thus make him stick to the "sys- 
tem." Perhaps class differences are fluid after all, the plot sug- 
gests, and its sham frankness in exposing the predicament of the 
lower classes serves to invigorate that daydream of social redemp- 

Pilms based upon this formula not only explored the picturesque 
Zille world, but also penetrated the sphere of the white-collar 
workers to promote a manicurist or switchboard operator among 
them: one Lotte landing in the arms of a rich bridegroom would 
reward the wishful thinking of all Lottes.^^ To be sure, such day- 
dreams were produced elsewhere as well; but the German specimens 
advertised the existing regime in a particularly detached, if not 
absent-minded, manner. They relied on the alluring effect of pro- 
motions to a higher social level at a time when, because of the stream- 
lining of big business, promotions of that kind had become extremely 
scarce. They presented upper-class people in such a way that choice 
night-clubs and shining cars appeared as the ultimate goal of all 
human endeavor. When Hollywood dealt with similar themes, events 
and characters at least preserved a faint vestige of liveliness. These 

Program brochure to the film. Cf. Weinberg, Bcrapbooks, 1925-27; *'Wisseii Sie 
schon?** Daa groase BUdetluch, p. 145. Kalbus, Deutsche Fihnkunst, I, 59, lists a num- 
ber of such "Zille" flhns. Among them may be mentioned Die Gesujtkenbk (The 
Sttnken, 1926) with Asta Nielsen, and Das Euwacheit bes Weibes (Woman's 
AwAKEirixo, 1927). Cf. programs to these films. 

^'^ For critical comment on the whole trend, see Kracauer, "Der heutige Film und 
sem Puhlikum," Frankfwter Zeitung, Nov. 80, 1928. 



German films were artificial and oblique products. And yet they 
found response. Spirits were barren. 

Other films aimed at manipulating those who were too discon- 
tented with the general social and political conditions to let them- 
selves be drugged by Zille films and the like. The recipe was primitive: 
one tried to neutralize pent-up indignation by directing it against 
evils of small importance. Several films of the time stigmatized rigors 
of the penal code. Keetjzzug des Weibes (Unwelcome Children, 
1926) attacked the provisions against unlawful abortion, while the 
Nero film Geschlecht in Fesseln (Sex in Fetters, 1928) cam- 
paigned for prison ref orm.^^ Since both films, moreover, emphasized 
sex matters, they were bound to arouse a mixture of indignation and 
sensuality which could not but increase their value as safety valves. 

If, as it happened, some film or other assumed a radical attitude, 
that radicalism invariably turned against powers long since over- 
thrown. Two mediocre screen versions of Gerhart Hauptmann plays 
— ^DiE Weber (The Weavers, 1927) and Der Biberpelz (The 
Beaver Coat, 1928) — combated the early capitalists and the con- 
ceited authorities under the Kaiser.^* Among these anachronistic 
affairs was one of the best films of the period: Hans Behrendt's 
Die Hose (Royal Scandal, 1927) , fashioned after a prewar com- 
edy by Carl Sternheim. It concerned a romantic intrigue be- 
tween the sovereign of a small principality and the wife of a petty 
o£5cial who, instead of objecting to being cuckolded, felt highly 
elated over his fate because the wise sovereign did not forget to 
promote and decorate him. Even though film experts held that 
Royal Scandal was too high-brow to be good business, this *T>lend 
of grand burlesque and satire," as Potamkin called it, ingratiated 
itself with German moviegoers.^^ They relished the acting of Werner 
Krauss, who endowed the petty oiBcial with all the traits of the Ger- 
man philistine. When they laughed at him, they may have believed 
that they laughed at a former, pretty ridiculous stage of their own 
existence. But their laughter was mixed with emotional concern, 
for they could not help secretly craving that lost era with its pro- 
tective sovereigns and sparkling medals. 

18 For Unwelcome Chujdhek, see Buchner, Im Banne des Films, p. 142 ; for Sex 
isr Fetters, B., "Geschlecht in Fesseln,'* Close Up, Dec 1928, pp. 69-71. 

i« Cf. Zaddach, Der literarische Film, p. 71, and Kracauer, **Der heutige FHin und 
sein Publikum," Frankfurter Zeitung, Nov. 80, 1928. 

Potamkin, "Kino and Lichtspiel." Close Up, Nov. 1929, p. 895. See also pro- 
gram to RoTAi. SoAin>AL, and Freedley and Reeves, History of the Theatre, p. 514. 



The testimony of film content was borne out by tliat of methods 
of presentation: they, too, betrayed the paralysis of the collective 
mind. It was as if, along with sensibility to essential content, the 
whole ^ha sense had weakened. Instead of narrating the story 
through a display of adequate pictures, directors who should have 
known better degraded the pictures to mere illustrations of the story. 
Plot and imagery fell asunder, and the latter was confined to the 
role of an accompaniment that added nothing. Many a film gave 
the impression of having been drawn from a novel, even if that novel 
did not exist. 

The strange debilitation of the film sense affected cinematic tech- 
niques. Devices that up to 1924* had been developed to express 
definite meanings turned into meaningless routine matters from 
1924 on. Having learned how to move a camera, the cameraman let 
it run wild on every occasion.^^ Close-ups became a habit. Directors 
would not even take the trouble to vary them, but would use stand- 
ardized sets of close-ups to render commonplace events that were 
quite understandable without any such insertions. Whenever the 
leading character of a film mounted a train, the audience could 
count on being informed of his departure by fragments of the loco- 
motive and slowly revolving wheels. In Shattered, close shots of 
that kind had had a structural function in these films, they were 
ready-made ornaments — products of an absent-mindedness that also 
accounted for the negligent handling of many details. The sumptu- 
ous screen lobbies of de luxe hotels recalled real lobbies but vaguely, 
and when the whole of a building and one of its parts were shown, 
that part seemed to belong to another building. 

The mechanization of all editing procedures was conspicuous. In 
the case of night-club episodes, no fihn-maker could resist the tempta- 
tion of illustrating ecstasy at its height through a cliche juxtapo- 
sition of performing legs, giant saxophone tubes and staggering 
torsos. Many fihns referred to the first World War: even the re- 
motest reference to it sufSced to provoke the sudden appearance of 
barbed-wire fences, marching columns and shell-bursts — stock mate- 
rial cut in automatically. Fixed types of transitions predominated. 
One of them connected two different objects by inserting details of 
them in close-up. If, for instance, the scene was to shift from an 

See, for instance, "Die entfesselte Kamera," UforMagcusin, March 26-81, 1927. 
For the run-of-the-miU techniques of the period, see Kracauer, "Der heutige Film und 
sein Pwblikum,'* Frankfurter Zextung^ Nov. 80, 1928. 
22 Cf. p. 108. 



elegant gentleman to a poor woman, the camera first focused upon 
the gentleman, then tilted down to his shoes, stopped there until 
the shoes had transformed themselves into those of the woman, and 
finally tilted up again to make the woman appear. Most Ufa come- 
dies included picture units that paralleled the behavior of some 
actor to that of a pet animal. When a glamour girl was all sunshine, 
her Pekingese would be in high spirits as well ; when the Pekingese 
became morose, one could be fairly sure that the subsequent shot 
would show big tears gliding down the girl's cheeks. 

There was no lack of grade-A fihns produced with all the crafts- 
manship of which the German studios were capable, but most of them 
dealt with unimportant subjects or drained important subjects of 
their significance. What made these elite products seem different 
from the standardized average output was mainly their technical 
perfection — ^that consummate grand-style manner in which they 
handled nothing as if it were something. They simulated content. It 
was through this very pretentiousness that they testified to the exist- 
ing paralysis. 

Since The Last Laugh had been a world success, Carl Mayer 
and F. W. Mumau continued collaborating; the outcome was Tar- 
TUFFE (1926), an Ufa superproduction, in which the two artists paid 
tribute to the grand-style manner [Illus. 26] . The paralysis was all- 
pervading. Mayer seemed aware of its contagious power, and, as if he 
felt that the indifference around and in him would do away with 
any immediacy of thought and emotion and thus engender a deep 
and general hjrpocrisy, he tried in Tarttjpfe to emphasize hypoc- 
risy as the basic vice of contemporary society. This he did by means 
of a story framing his screen version of Moliere's comedy. The film 
opens with a prologue showing a wealthy old gentleman in the 
clutches of his housekeeper who, another Tartuffe, courts him 
brazenly. To open the old fool's eyes, his grandson invites him and 
the housekeeper to a screening of Tartwjfe he has been clever 
enough to prearrange. Here the prologue ends, and Tartuffe com- 
mences. Like the play in Hamlet^ this film within a film fulfills an 
enlightening mission: in the epilogue the female legacy-hunter is 
ousted. But elaborate production snowed imder what Mayer had to 
impart. The critics dismissed the modem framing story as an un- 
necessary addition. The rendering of MoHere culminated in moments 
of accomphshed acting and such decorative fiLnesse as "the lace 



n%lig^ in the final bedroom scene, the pattern of the bed cover- 
ing, the porcelain clock on the fireplace,*' and so forth.^^ It was a 
slick theatrical performance. Much as the camera hovered about, it 
subordinated itself always to J annings and the other players instead 
of using them for purposes of its own.^* This Tartuite, far from 
bringing home hypocrisy to the audience, was itself Tartuffish, for 
it flattered an audience anxious to leave things in the depths un- 

Before going to Hollywood, Murnau staged another Ufa super- 
production: Fatjst (1926). Ufa seemed determined to make this 
film a cultural monument. Hans Kyser's script exploited Marlowe 
and Goethe and German folk sagas, and Gerhart Hauptmann, Ger- 
many's foremost poet, composed the film titles. Technical ingenuity 
was lavished on angelic apparitions and devilish conjuring tricks. 
Karl Freund's camera rushed on a roller coaster of his own inven- 
tion through a vast, studio-built landscape filled with towns, woods 
and villages, and the views thus obtained enabled the spectators to 
participate in the aerial trip Mephistopheles undertook with the 
rejuvenated Paust. Their flight was a celestial sensation. But 
neither the roller coaster nor Gerhart Hauptmann could compensate 
for the futility of a film which misrepresented, if not ignored, all 
significant motifs inherent in its subject-matter.^ The metaphysical 
conflict between good and evil was thoroughly vulgarized, and the 
drawn-out love story between Faust and Margarete induced the critic 
of the National Board of Review Magazine to remark: '*We find 
ourselves descending from the masculine version of Marlowe and the 
philosophical concept of Goethe to the level of the libretto which 
inspired Gounod to write his opera." ^® Faust was not so much a 
cultural monument as a monumental display of artifices capitalizing 
on the prestige of national culture. The obsolete theatrical poses to 
which the actors resorted betrayed the falsity of the whole. While 
the film had considerable success abroad, it met with indifference in 
Germany itself. The Germans of the time did not take to Faustian 

*® Quoted from Rotha^ FUm Till Now, p. 198. Cf. Weinberg, Scraphooks, 1927; 
Zaddach, J>er UterariscJie FUm, pp. 59-^0; Film Society Propramme, April 1, 1928. 

a* Cf. "Tartuffe, the Hypocrite," National Board of Beviev> Magazine, May 1928, 
p. 6. 

a» Program brochure to the film; Botha, FUm Till Nov>, p. 198; Vincent, HiHoire 
de VArt Cinima(ograpkique, p. 152; "Die entfesselte Kamera,*' Ufor-Magcain, March 
25-81, 1927; Oinia^Qini, March 16, 1927, pp. 19-50. 

"Faust," National Board of Review Magazine, Nov. 192$, p, 10. See also 
Potamkin, "The Rise and Fall of the German Fihn," Cinema, April 1980, p. 69. 



problems, and moreover resented any interference with their tradi- 
tional notions of the classics.^ 

Outstanding instances of grand-style manner were the three fihns 
Fritz Lang produced during the stabilized period. They dealt with 
thrilling adventures and technical fantasies symptomatic of the then 
current machine cult. The first of them was Metropolis, an Ufa 
production released at the beginning of 1927. Lang relates that he 
conceived the idea of this internationally known film when from 
shipboard he saw New York for the first time — a nocturnal New 
York glittering with myriad lights.^^ The city built in his film is a 
sort of super New York, realized on the screen with the aid of the 
so-called Shuftan process, an ingenious mirror device permitting 
the substitution of little models for giant structures.^^ This screen 
metropolis of the future consists of a lower and an upper city. 
The latter — ^a grandiose street of skyscrapers aHve with an inces- 
sant stream of air taxis and cars — ^is the abode of big-business 
owners, high-ranking employees and pleasure-hunting gilded youth. 
In the lower city, shut ojBf from daylight, the workers tend monstrous 
machines. They are slaves rather than workers. The film elaborates 
upon their rebellion against the master class in the upper world, 
and ends with the reconciliation of the two classes. 

However, what is important here is not so much the plot as the 
preponderance of surface features in its development. In the bril- 
liant laboratory episode, the creation of a robot is detailed with a 
technical exactitude that is not at all required to further the action. 
The office of the big boss, the vision of the Tower of Babel, the 
machinery and the arrangement of the masses : all illustrate Lang's 
penchant for pompous ornamentation.^** In Nibelttngen, his decora- 
tive style was rich in meaning; in Metropolis, the decorative not 
only appears as an end in itseK, but even belies certain points made 
through the plot. It makes sense that, on their way to and from the 
machines, the workers form ornamental groups ; but it is nonsensical 
to force them into such groups while they are listening to a com- 
forting speech from the girl Maria during their leisure time. In his 
exclusive concern with ornamentation, Lang goes so far as to com- 

Jacobs, American FUm, p. 810; **Was is los?" UforMagazin, Feb. 4-10, 1927; 
"ErUuterungen," JPiZm-PAoio*, p. 58. 
^® Information offered by Mr, Lang. 

Information offered by Mr. Shuftan. 
30 Cf. Rotha, Ctilhdoid, pp. 28(k82; "Die entfesselte Kamera," Ufa-Magazin, 
March 25-81, 1927; Jahier, *'4& Ans de Cinema," Le B6le mtelUetvel du Cin4m<h P* ^* 



pose decorative patterns from the masses who are desperately trying 
to escape the inundation of the lower city. Cinematically an incom- 
parable achievement, this inundation sequence is himianly a shocking 
failure [lUus. 28]. Metbopous impressed the German public. The 
Americans relished its technical excellence; the English remained 
aloof; the French were stirred by a film which seemed to them a 
blend of Wagner and Krupp, and on the whole an alarming sign 
of Germany's vitality.®^ 

Lang*s subsequent filTTi, the mystery thriller Spione (The Spy, 
1928) , shared two traits with his Dr. Mabtjse. It featured a master 
spy who, like Mabuse, led several different lives : besides the spy, he 
was also the president of a bank and a music-hall clown. And exactly 
Hke Dr. Mabuse, this new film refrained from conferring moral 
superiority upon the representatives of the law.^^ Espionage and 
counterespionage were on the same level — ^two gangs fighting each 
other in a chaotic world. Yet there was one important difference: 
wMle Dr. Mabuse had incarnated the tyrant who takes advantage of 
the chaos around him, the master spy indulged in the spy business 
for the sole purpose, it seemed, of spying. He was a formalized 
Mabuse devoted to meaningless activities. By emphasizing this 
figure, the film reflected the neutrality prevalent duriag that period 
— a neutrality which also manifested itself in the absence of any 
distinction between legal and illegal pursuits and in a prodigal 
abundance of disguises. No character was what he appeared to be. 
This constant change of identities was appropriate to denote a state 
of mind in which the paralysis of the self interfered with any attempt 
at self -identification. As if to fiOil the void, Lang piled up sensations 
which conveyed no meaning. His imaginative virtuosity in shaping 
them reached its climax with a train wreck in a tunnel. Since it 
proved impossible to stage the catastrophe in life-size proportions, 
he gave the impression of it through confused mental images of 
the persons involved in this shock situation. 

The Spy would have been a true f orenmner of the Hitchcock 
thrillers if Lang had not fashioned it after the pompous manner 
of Metropolis, so that empty sensations took on the air of sub- 
stantial revelations. Virtuosity alienated from content posed as art. 
In accordance with this pretense, Ufa issued a volume that was a 

31 While H. G. Wells damned Metoopous as "quite the silliest film" (Rotha, Film 
Till NoWf p. 194), Conan Doyle was enthusiastic about it (cf. "Was is los?'* Xlfor- 
Magazm, April 15-21, 1927). For further comment on Metropolis, see p. 162 ff. 

32 Cf. p. 88. 



triumph of bookbinding though it contained nothing but the Thea 
von Harbou novel from which The Spy had been made.*® 

In his third fihn, Die Frau im Mond (The Gmi, nr the 
Moon, 1929), Lang imagined a rocket projectile carrying passen- 
gers to the moon. The cosmic enterprise was staged with a surprising 
veracity of vision; the plot was pitiable for its emotional short- 
comings. These were so obvious that they discredited many an illusion 
Lang tried to create by showy virtuosity. The lunar landscape 
smelled distinctly of Ufa's Neubabelsberg studios.*^ 

Other films in grand-style manner masked their insignificance 
by assuming the character of tragedies. It was easy: you had only 
to introduce some unlucky incident and make it appear a fateful 
event. In Ufa's Henny Porten film Zufltjcht (Refuge, 1928), a 
young man who had once run away from his bourgeois parents to 
join the proletariat returns to his native town, completely disillu- 
sioned. A poor girl there takes care of the broken ex-revolutionary, 
and his parents are finally willing to accept him and the pregnant 
girl. Happiness seems close at hand, but Ufa, inexorable, frustrates 
it. At the very last moment the young man dies a death designed 
to impress tragedy upon the audience.^** Since he had been a revolu- 
tionary, Ufa may also have considered his death morally justified. 
In cases in which a tragic outcome was not held opportune, the films 
in grand-style manner frequently relied on the spell of beautiful 
settings to conceal their emptiness. Bergner in Dona J ttana (1928) 
was seen before the fountains of Granada and on the roads Don 
Quixote had trodden. It was all trappings. 

Even the documentaries inclined to be grandiloquent. The Ufa 
KvHur-fWrifi Natub msn Liebe (Nature and Love) combined with 
its scenes of sex life monumental visions of mankind's birth and 

Program brochure to the film; Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 198, ajad Celluloid, 
p. 223; Herring, "Reasons of Rhyme," Close Up, Oct 1929, pp. 280-81. 

8* Rotha, Celluloid, pp. 282-87; Dreyfus, **La Femme sur la Lune," La Bevue du 
CinSma, May 1980, pp. 62-68; **Prau hn Mond," Close Up, Nov. 1929, pp. 448^; 
Jahier, "42 Ans de Cm^ma," Bdle intelleetuel du Cw4ma, p. 62; Amheim, Film als 
Ktmst, p. 180. 

3« Kracauer, "Der heutige Film imd sein Publikum," Frankfurter Zextung, Dec 
1, 1928. See also "Zuflucht," Ufor-Leth.-^ln this context, several costume films more or 
less affected by the predominant grand-style manner should at least be mentioned: 
Makox Lescaut, 1926 (cf. Rotha, Film TUl Now, pp. 200-1, and lUwtrierter Film- 
Kurier) ; Dee Rosenkavaliee, 1926 (cf. Kalbus, Deutsche FUmlcunst, I, 81) ; MAKnar 
LuTHEB, 1928 (cf. "Martin Luther," National Board of Review Magazine, Oct 1928, 
p. 4, and Blakeston, "Snap," Close Up, May 1929, pp. 41-42) ; ScHiNnERHAirarES, 1928 
(Rotha, ibid., p. 206, and Hellmund-Waldow, "Alraune and Schinderhannes," Close 
Up, March 1928, pp. 46-48) ; Napoueok auf St. Heusita, 1929 (program to this film). 



rise.^® Similarly, the KuLtwrfSm Wunber der Schopfung (Mira- 
cuEs OP Creation, 1925) not only pictured present-day miracles, 
but foreshadowed astronomical events of the future, including the 
wholesale death of our universe. According to the prospectus to 
this latter film, Ufa was convinced that the sight of such astronomi- 
cal events would induce any thinking spectator to become aware of 
the utter unimportance of his ephemeral existence.^^ In other words, 
the tragic destiny of the cosmos was exhibited to deflect the spec- 
tator's attention from the problems of everyday life. Grand-style 
manner in such instances as this helped to stupefy social conscious- 

3« Kracauer, "Der heutige Film und scin Publikum," Frankfurter Zeitung, Nov. 
30, 1928. 

3"' Ufa Verleih-Programme, I924i/25, p. 102. 


The second group of films that appeared during the stabilized era 
allows one to specify the psychological contents then paralyzed. 
Having no direct outlet, they made themselves known in a devious 
and distorted way. A number of films of this group divulged their 
messages after the manner of dreams ; it is as if they were the con- 
fessions of someone talking in his sleep. 

A few films, stragglers of a bygone era, reveal that the old 
psychological unrest continued to smolder in the collective soul. In 
1926, Henrik Galeen staged a second Stitdent von Prao (The 
Student of Prague), which differed thematically from the first 
only in that it put more emphasis on the psychological significance 
of the plot. This beautiful, if in some respects questionable, version 
of Wegener's prewar film deliberately interpreted Baldwin's fight 
with his double as a fight with his other self The film was a big 
success in Germany; it seemed to make the Germans realize their 
own duality, which during the stabilized period was deepened by the 
latent conflict between republican institutions and paralyzed author- 
itarian dispositions. Galeen's picture, which was full of E. T. A. 
Hoffmann reminiscences, sensitized these dispositions and all the 
impulses and longings connected with them. It may have been the 
story's inherent material that caused the Nazis to release another 
Student op Prague in 1936. 

Expert in fantastic horror films, Galeen also made Alraune 
(TJNHOiiY Love, 1928), which was based upon a novel by H. H. 
Ewers. A scientist (Paul Wegener), experimenting in artificial im- 
pregnation, creates a htmian being: Alraune, daughter of a hanged 
criminal and a prostitute. This creature, portrayed by Brigitte Hehn 
as a somnambulant vamp with seductive and empty features, ruins 

* "The Man Who Cheated life," National Board of RwiBv> Magazine, Feb. 1929, 
pp., 10-11; H. D., "Conrad Vcidt, The Student of Prague," Close Up, Sept 1927, 
pp. 86-48; Blakeston, "An Epic— Please 1" ibid^ p. 66; Rotha, Film Till Now, pp. 202-8, 
285; Ilhutri^rter PUmnKurier (synopsis of the fihn); Wesse, Groaamaoht Film, pp. 



all those who are in love .with her, and at the end destroys herself.^ 
Alraune's family resemblance to Homunculus is apparent. In her 
case, too, abnormal origins are called upon to account for inner 
frustration and its devastating consequences. The story aroused 
sufficient interest to be made into a talkie a few years later. This 
indicates that among the paralyzed psychological processes those 
to which the film referred were of consequence. 

Several films remotely akin to the instinct and peasant dramas 
of the postwar years glorified nature — ^to be more precise, the inter- 
relationship between human nature and external nature. Regardless 
of whether they rendered storms or frosts, farmers or fishermen, 
they placed the laws of nature — an eternally unchanging nature — 
above the decrees of autonomous reason. Their sporadic appearance 
testified to the existence of a romanticizing tendency which had been 
strengthened by suffering resulting from the streamlining of all 
working processes. This tendency, hostile to the intellect as such, 
turned not only against a rationalism which ignored the friendly 
forces of nature, but also against the ever-repeated attempts of 
reason to defeat nature's destructive forces manifesting themselves 
through tyranny. Widespread as such an anti-intellectuaHsm was, 
it expressed itself not so much on the screen as in philosophy and 
literature — ^which means that it was actually prevented from achiev- 
ing full expression in that period. 

Among the films subordinating reason to nature, Fritz Wend- 
hausen's Der Sohn der Hagar (Out op the Mist, 1927) ranked 
high because of its magnificent pictures of snowy woods, spring 
scenery and old-fashioned interiors. It was a romance elaborating 
upon the return of a handsome young man to his native mountain 
village. He arrives from faraway "large cities," and becomes in- 
volved in passions springing up in a wayside inn and a sawmiU.* 
The ties between the villagers and their land are so indissoluble that 
he appears as an intruder up to the end. In her review of the film, 
Miss Lejeune states that "every achieved action, every enduring 
motive springs from the life of the soil . . . while the foreign emo- 
tions remain unfulfilled." ^ The affiliation of this cult of the soil with 

» Cf. Hellmund-Waldow, "Alraune and Schinderhannes," Close Up, March 1928, 
pp. 49-50; etc. In a similar vein was Wiene's Oelac's HIin>E (The Hastds op Oelac, 
1926) ; cf. Film Society Programme, Oct. 24, 1926. 

3 "Films of the Month: Out of the Mist," Close Up, Oct. 1927, p. 85. 

-» Lejeune, Cinema, p. 284. See also Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 206. For other films 
of this kind, see Martini, "Nature and Human Fate," Close Up, Nov. 1927, pp. 10-14; 
Das grosse Bildertmch, 1926, p. 876 j etc 



authoritarian behavior was to be revealed by the blood-and-soil Kt- 
erature of the Nazis. 

Dr. Arnold Fanck continued his series of mountain films with 
the already-mentioned Holt Mountatn- and a rather insignificant 
comedy.** The yield was slight. Under the sun of Locarno, the heroic 
idealism of the mountain climbers seemed to melt away like the snow 
in the valleys. Yet it survived and, as prosperity drew to a close, 
again attained the heights in Die weisse Holle von Piz Palu 
(The White Hejjl op Pitz Palu, 1929), in which Ernst Udet's 
daredevil flights matched the stunt ascensions. Panck made this 
cinematically fascinating film with the aid of G. W. Pabst, who 
probably did his best to cut down emotional exuberance.* However, 
sentimentality was inseparable from that variety of idealism. 

The national films of the stabilized period were also affected by 
the general apathy. In a number of them patriotic fervor seemed 
suspended. A Eismarck film, released in 1926, was a purely matter- 
of-fact biography."^ Der Weltkrieg (Woeu) Wab, 1927) — an 
Ufa documentary in three parts utilizing stock candid-camera work 
— ^resulted from the express design of ''presenting the historic facts 
with incontestable objectivity." ^ This fihn included an important 
innovation: maps illustrating battle arrays and army evolutions 
after the manner of animated cartoons. Sven Noldan, their creator, 
called them a means of giving the illusion of phenomena not to be 
found in camera reality.^ He was also to make the maps for the 
Nazi war films Baptism of Fire and Victobt in the West, but in 
these films their propaganda function of symbolizing Nazi Ger- 
many's irresistible military might was to overshadow their character 
as objective statements. (It is, by the way, not surprising that L^on 
Poirier's war documentary Veeduk, 1928, rivaled Woru) War in 
neutrality: to some extent, the Treaty of Locarno determined the 
outlook of both the French and the German partner.) The Emden 

5Cf. p. 112.--For The Holt Mountcaiit, see Kalbus, Deutsche FUmkungt, J, 92; 
Weinberg, Scrapbooka, 1927; for the comedy, Deb geosse Spruito (The Big Jump, 
1927), Kalbus, ibid,, and Ilhiatrierter Fihnr-Kwrier. Fanck also wrote the script of 
another monntain film, Dee Ejlupf tjms MATTEEUOEiir (SmtroGUE roE the Mateee- 
HOEN, 1928). 

«Rotha, CelluMd, pp. 82-fi8; **The White Hdl of Plz Pain," Close Up, Dec. 
1929, p. 54*8. 

For BiSACAECK, see Kalbus, Deutsche FUmkunst, 1, 57. 

« Quoted from Krieger, **Woj5u ein WeltkriegsfiW?" Ufor-Maffozin (Sondernum- 
mer: Der Weltkrieg). See also Ittustrierter Ftlm-Kurier. 

^ Noldan, '*Die Darstellung der Schlachtenj" UfarMagasiin (Sondemummer: Der 



(1926) and U-9 Weddigen (1927), two films of fiction extolling 
w^ar feats o£ the German navy, were no less eager to seem impartial. 
An American correspondent who attended the premiere of U-9 Wed- 
DiGEir during a Berlin Stahlhelm convention praised it for avoiding 
nationalistic coloring.^^ 

This reserve was not general. The Fridericus films of the period 
and several Hndred films similarly exploiting top figures of Prussian 
history indulged in an obtrusive patriotism.^^ However, their patri- 
otism had an outright cliche character which, exactly like the neu- 
trality of World Wab or Emden, suggested the existing paralysis 
of nationalistic passions. As a matter of fact, the public of the Dawes 
Plan era considered these patriotic cut-to-pattern films somewhat 
antiquated reminiscences. Two of them — Konigin Lxhse (Queen 
LursE, 1927) and Waterloo (1929)— were made by Karl Grune. 

The direction Grune took after his memorable The Street is 
revealing. He approached vital problems from different angles in a 
cinematicaUy interesting way. His Arabella (1925) was a melo- 
dramatic survey of human life seen through the eyes of a horse; his 
EiEERSTTCHT (Jealottsy, 1926) transferred the main motif of 
Warning Shadows into realistic surroundings ; his Am Rande 
DEE Welt (At the Edge of the World, 1927) treated an "uncon- 
vincing pacifist theme*' in the form of a saga set against an impres- 
sive landscape.^^ Then, as if overwhehned by disiUusion, he renounced 
any emotional directness, and fell back on the conventionalism of his- 
torical costume films. Waterloo, in which he adopted Abel Gance's 
idea of projecting simultaneous events on three screens, concen- 
trated upon Bliicher's triumph over Napoleon; it was a Bliicher 
played by Otto Gebiihr, alias Frederick the Great.^* As has been 
stated in an earlier chapter, the appearance of some Frederick 
would be needed to release the philistine in The Street from the 
sadness of his plush parlor: Grune's development was logical. It 
was also the outcome of inner exhaustion and as such once more 
pointed to the paralysis behind these patriotic films. 

^0 Quoted from Weinberg, Scraf hooks, 192T. For Thb Emdek, see Bryhei, "The 
War from Three Angles," Close Up, July 1927, p. 20. 
»*Kalbus, Deutsche FUmJounst, I, 56-57. 

IS* For QTJTEar Luise and Aeabeixa, see programs to these films; for JEALorrsYj 
Vincent, Bistoire de TArt Qinimatographique^ p. 150, and IWmtrierter Fitm-Kurier, 

13 Quoted from Rotha, Film Till Now, pp. 201-2. See also D. L. H., "Films in the 
Provinces," Close Up, June 1929, p. 56; "Wie ein Film entsteht," UforMaffaain, 
April 29_Ma7 5, 1927. According to Rotha the script was by Carl Mayer. 
Vincent, Mistoire de VAft Cinimatographique^ p. 160. 



Much pertinent information can be derived from a series of 
films which may be called "street" fOms, because they resumed the 
theme Grune had introduced in The Street. Their concern with the 
street was so intense that they rarely failed to include the word, or a 
synonym, in their titles. 

On the surface, these films were nothing but derivatives of 
Grune's fihn : they, too, featured a rebellious individual who would 
break away from home and security, follow his passions on the 
street and at the end again submit to the exigencies of conventional 
life. However, what seemed a mere repetition of Grune's story in fact 
differed from it essentially. The street in the street films was no 
longer the dreadful jungle it appeared in The Street of 1923 ; it 
was a region harboring virtues that had deserted bourgeois society. 
To be sure, the outcast as the "keeper of the flame*' was not at all a 
novelty on the stage, but on the German screen this figure became 
an institution only during the stabilized period. In Pabst's Die 
FREUDLosE Gasse (The Jotless Street, 1925), which will be dis- 
cussed later,^*^ the sole character manifesting true inner grandeur was 
a girl with all the earmarks of a prostitute. Abandoned by her lover 
for a wealthy match, she kills a socialite who might have thwarted 
his marriage project, and then confesses her crime before the judge 
to clear her lover from suspicion of being himself the murderer. 

While this girl was only of episodic importance, a character of 
similar magnanimity played the leading part in Bruno Rahn's im- 
pressive and successful Dirnentragodie (Tragedy op the Street, 
1927) : she was an elderly, worn-out prostitute. Walking her beat, 
she stumbles upon a drunken young man — a bourgeois offspring 
who, after a quarrel with his parents, has left home for the street. 
She takes him to her room, and is foolish enough to believe him in 
love with her. During her absence — she goes out to invest her sav- 
ings in a confectionery shop, so as to become worthy of him — ^her 
sowtenewr introduces him to Clarissa, a pretty young streetwalker, 
for whom he abandons the old prostitute. She is wounded deeply; 
but what grieves this loving heart most is not so much her own misery 
as the thought that life with Clarissa may spoil the boy's whole 
future. In her despair, she incites her souteneur to kill the girl. 
Detectives track down the murderer, and the prostitute herself com- 
mits suicide. On the door of the shabby rooming-house a signboard 
reads "Room to Let." Back home, the boy performs the well-known 

"Cf.p. 167 flf. 



gesture : he sobs, his head sheltered in his mother's lap.^^ Asta Niel- 
sen, emerging from the spheres of Ibsen and Strindberg, portrayed 
the prostitute incomparably : not a realistic one, but that imaginary 
figure of an outcast who has discarded social conventions because 
of her abundance of love, and now, through her mere existence, 
defies the questionable laws of a hypocritical society^' [Illus. 29]. 

Joe May's Asphalt (1929) — one of the fihns Erich Pommer sug- 
gested and supervised after his return from America — ^surpassed 
Tragedy op the Street in explicitness. The boy who in Asphalt 
risks his professional honor in a love adventure with a thievish tart 
is a traffic cop and moreover the son of a police sergeant — Crown 
Prince Frederick rebelling against, and finally submitting to, his 
father. The act of submission itself acquires new meaning in this 
film. When towards the end the traffic cop is indicted for having 
murdered a man in the tart's flat, the girl volunteers a confession 
of her own complicity that exonerates him. She is marched off to 
the prison. Btt the young crown prince of the police follows her 
with his eyes, and his gaze implies a promise of loyalty and ensuing 
marriage.^^ Here the street penetrates the bourgeois parlor — ^a pene- 
tration which also marks the end of Die Carmen von ST.-PAtiLi 
(Carmen op St. Paul, 1928), another of this series." In the street 
films, two dimensions of life were interrdated which in Grune's 
The Street had been incompatible with each other. 

The imagery of the street films reveals that in the Germany of 
the time the street exerted an irresistible attraction. Paul Rotha 
remarks of Rahn's Tragedy op the Street: "Throughout, all 
things led back to the street; its pavements with the hurrying, 
soliciting feet; its dark comers and angles; its light under the 
sentinel lamp-posts." The street in this film, Rotha adds, was 
mainly characterized by the motif of "the feet that walk over its 
stones" — a motif traceable to that close shot which in the Grune 

^« Herring, **La Trag^die de la Rue," Qlo^e V'p, July 1928, pp. 81-40; Buchner, 
Jm, Banne dea Films, pp. 120lS1; Bard^che and Braslllach, History of Motion Pic- 
tures, p. 254. 

^^'Asta Nielsen was also featured in Hedda Gablee (1925) and LAatm deh 
Meitschheit (Lusts of MANKiin), 1927). For the latter film, see Blakeston, "Lusts of 
Mankind," Close Up, Nov. 1928, pp. S8-4il. JaJhier speaks of "Papparition baudelai- 
rienne d'Asta Nielsen" in The Joyiess Street ("42 Ans de Cinema," Le B6U in- 
tellectuel du OiiUma, p. 68). See also Mungenast, Asta Nielsen. 

Synopsis of film in IlVustrierter Ptlm-Kurier, Ct Gfregor, Zeitalter dea Films, 
pp. 209-10. 

Synopsis of film in Jlhitstrierter FCirirKurier, 
20 Rotha, Film Till iVoio, p. 206. 


film showed the philistine's legs following a wavy line on the pave- 
ment. Rahn's film opens with an incident photographed at the level 
of a dog's eyes: the feet of a man follow those of a girl along a 
sidewalk, then upstairs, and then into a room. It is as if the feet 
were no less expressive than the faces. Clarissa's high heels are seen 
moving uptown, and later the heavy feet of the souteTtewr pursue 
her light ones like a threat. In Asphaxt, the pavement itself is a 
central motif. The prologue to this film illustrates, after the manner 
of a documentary, how asphalt is produced and how it voraciously 
swallows the open land to pave the way for city traffic — ^that thun- 
dering chaos mastered, as in The Street, by the magic gestures 
of the policeman. Shots featuring the union of asphalt and traffic 
also form the epilogue of the action proper. The emphasis put on 
the asphalt goes hand in hand with the insertion of street pictures 
at every dramatic high point. They herald, for example, a significant 
love scene between the traffic cop and the tart. Such street pictures 
were essential components of all street films. In Grune's film, they 
had helped objectify the horrors of anarchy; in the street fihns, 
they denoted the hope of genuine love. 

Tragedt of the Steeet and Asphalt radiated a warmth rarely 
to be found during the stabilized period. This and their pictorial 
sensitivity — ^the petty-bourgeois home of the police family in As- 
phalt, for instance, is portrayed absorbingly — suggest that in 
those street films the paralyzed inner attitudes rose to the surface. But 
they were able to pierce the cover of neutrality only by manifesting 
themselves in the form of dreams. Tkagedt op the Street and the 
other street films are dreamlike complexes of images constituting a 
sort of secret code. By glorifying what Potamkin calls *^ '^die Strasse' 
of brothels," the street films figuratively express discontent with the 
stabilized republican regime.^^ Life, they seem to say, is not worth 
while within the boundaries of the "system" ; it comes into its own 
only outside the rotten bourgeois world. That the center of life is 
the street — ^a quarter peopled not with proletarians, but with out- 
casts — vindicates that the discontented are far from being sociaHst- 
minded. Love in the street stands for ideals averse to Locarno, 
Weimar and Moscow. 

During the postwar period, the Grune fihn emphasized the 

^1 Cf. BalAzs, Dw Geitt des Films, p. 71. 

22 Potamkin, **Pabst and the Social Film," Moimd ^ Horn, Jan.-March 1988, 
p. 298. 



Philistine's return to his middle-class home — a resumption of au- 
thoritarian behavior. The street films emphasize desertion of the 
home, but still in the interest of authoritarian behavior. The bour- 
geois runaway whose rebellion was once nothing but a futile esca- 
pade now is engaged in an escape that amounts to an antidemocratic, 
antirevolutionary rebellion. (From 1933 on, such Nazi films as 
HiTLERJXJNGE QxJEX and TJm das Menschenrecht are to present 
the communists and leftist intellectuals as libertines given to orgies 
with loose girls. However, these girls have nothing in common with 
the ideal prostitutes who under the Republic lured rebels predestined 
to become Nazis.) In most street films, the rebellion against the 
**system'' is followed by a submission to it which, instead of putting 
a definite end to the rebellion, marks it as an event of far-reaching 
consequence. In fact, these films foreshadow the thorough change 
of all values then prevalent by implying that the bonds between 
the prostitute and her bourgeois lover will survive the latter's sub- 

The street films were no isolated phenomenon. Like them, the 
many youth films of the period — films featuring children or adoles- 
cents — ^had the character of dreams arising from the paralyzed 
layers of the collective mind. On the whole, Potamkin's statement 
that *the German is interested in children, not in a child" proves 
correct. Dee Rauberbande (The Robber Band, 1928) dealt with 
the play life of a boys' gang ; Dek Kampf der Tertia (1929) , with 
a fine understanding of pre-adolescent emotions, pictured the Ho- 
meric fight boys of a school community put up to prevent the seizure 
and extermination of stray cats [Illus. 30].^* It occasionally hap- 
pened, though, that the action centered around an individual young- 
ster. In Die Ui^ehelichek (Childben of No Importance, 1926), 
for instance, two little children growing up in a true Zille milieu were 
seen suffering under a ruthless father,^* 

Youth films devoted to the inner difilculties of the eighteen-year- 
old predominated. Descending from the expressionist son-father 
dramas, they paralleled the street films in that they stressed the 
right to rebel. These films sided with juvenile insurgence against the 

«3 Quoted from Potamkin, "The Rise and Fall of the German Fflm," Cindina, 
April 1980, p. 57. For the two films, see Potamkin, ''Kino and Lichtspiel," Close Up, 
Nov. 1929, p. 894 J for Deb Kampf dee Tbioia, Bryher, "A German School A ilm," 
Close Up, Feb. 1980, pp. 129.-82. 

^* Kalbus, Deutgche Fihnkunst, I, 181; Weinberg, Seraphookt, 1928. 



rule of insensate adults. Most of them were loose variations of 
Wedekind's The Awakening of Spring (Fruhlmg^s Erwachen)^ 
which itself was made into a ^ihn by Richard Oswald (1929). Robert 
Land's Primanerleebe (1927) stood out among these studies in 
adolescence. In it, a youthful college boy is so terrorized by the 
severity of his guardian and his teachers that only one escape seems 
open to him: suicide. When he calls on the girl he loves to bid her 
farewell, he finds her on the point of falling prey to an unscrupulous 
seducer. He shoots the man with the buUet designed to kill himself. 
During the court proceedings, all his hidden motives and intentions 
come to the fore, and it dawns upon the guardian and the teachers 
that their rigorous discipline has been a grave mistake. They will 
undoubtedly try to mitigate it.^*^ Ufa's Dee Kampp des Donald 
Westhof (The Trial of Donald Westhop, 1928) echoed this fihn 
without matching it.^* 

In Der Geiger von Florenz (The Violinist op Florence, 
1926), another film of adolescence, Elisabeth Bergner plays a half- 
grown girl jealous of the love with which her father surrounds her 
young stepmother. Close shots render her smallest gestures and 
actions, so as to impress them upon the spectator as symptoms of 
her emotions. It is an all but psychoanalytical affair, made still more 
interesting by Bergner's boyish appearance. Strolling along Italian 
roads in boy's clothing, she looks half lad, half girl.^ The androgy- 
nous character she created found a response in Germany which may 
have been intensified by the existing inner paralysis. Psychological 
frustration and sexual ambiguity reinforce each other. Bergner in 
her subsequent films was to turn from the girlish boy to the similarly 
complex child-woman — a. figure of limited range, brought to perfec- 
tion in such films of hers as FRAULBrN Else (1929) and Ariane 
(1931). 2» 

The youth films begin to emerge inmiediately after the stabili- 
zation of the mark, and from then on remain popular throughout the 

as The Awaxbniitg op Sfbiis'g, see lUuatrierter FUmirKurieri for Pkimajtee- 
uxBE, Weinberg, Scra/phoohs, 1928. 

Cf. Weinberg, ihid. Another youth fihn was JxraroEs Blut, 1928 (French title: 
PnEACCEK Amoue — Phemxee DoTTiBTm) } cf. **Les Presentations de TAllifuice Cin&nato- 
graphique £urop6ene, Cinia-Oini, April 1, 1927, p. 15. 

^Trogram to the fOm; Rolia, Film Till Now, pp. 196-96; Film Society Pro- 
gramme, March 8, 1981; "Comment and Review," Clote Up, Feb. 1928, pp. 66-71; 
Gregor, Zeitalter des Filmf, pp. 212-16. 

For Fbaulein Else, see program brochure to the film. Rotha, Film TiU Now, 
p. 196, briefly appraises the Bergner films, including Lxebe (French tiUe, L'Hisxoiee 
DES Tbxjze, 1927) and Doka Jttajta (1928). For comment on Aeiake, see p. 266 f. 



republican era. It therefore seems justifiable to trace them to the 
paralysis of the retrogressive tendencies during that period. Since 
these tendencies are prevented from asserting themselves within the 
*^5ystem," they try to find an outlet by forcing imagination back 
to the time of premanhood when immaturity is still legitimate. 
The Germans under the Republic are homesick for youth — ^which 
accounts for the genuine tenderness with which their youth fihns 
dwell upon the inherent conflicts of adolescence. (Even though 
the retrogressive tendencies are released under Hitler, the Nazi fihns 
continue to feature juvenile life ; however, they do so not to symbolize 
the desire for retrogression, but to advertise youth as a pillar of the 
Nazi world.) 

In their concern with the aims of rebellion, the youth films go 
beyond the street films. They do not confine themselves to sympathiz- 
ing with the rebellious adolescents; they overtly turn against the 
adult tyrants and their authoritative discipline. Authority declaring 
itself omnipotent is here attacked with a directness never before 
attempted. This repudiation of absolute authority has two distinct 
meanings. First, notwithstanding the democratic constitution of the 
existing regime, the autocratic adults are made to appear its repre- 
sentatives. This is, for instance, the way they affect the youth in 
PmMAifBRLrEBE. By stigmatizing them and simultaneously holding 
out the prospect of their inner change, the youth fihns assume the 
function of the street films: they express discontent with the regime 
and forecast its decomposition. Second, the repudiation of absolute 
authority means just that and nothing more. But the youth films 
have the character of dreams, and in dreams opposition to an atti- 
tude is often tantamount to its acceptance. Not unlike the old 
expressionist tyrant fihns, which themselves were dreamlike projec- 
tions of an agitated soul, the youth films afiirm fixation to authori- 
tarian behavior precisely by stressing rebellion against it. Young 
rebels frequently develop into old tyrants who, the more fanatical 
they were as rebels, "tiie more relentless they are as tyrants. Signifi- 
cantly, none of the films offers a definition of freedom that would 
annul the paradoxical interrelationship between tyrant and rebel. 

One filtn was more explicit than all others: Metbopoms. In it, 
the paralyzed collective mind seemed to be talking with unusual 
clarity in its sleep. This is more than a metaphor: owing to a for- 
tunate combination of receptivity and confusion, Lang's scriptwriter, 
Thea von Harbou, was not only sensitive to all imdercurrents of the 
time, but indiscriminately passed on whatever happened to haunt her 


imagination.^® Metropolis was rich in subterranean content that, 
like contraband, had crossed the borders of consciousness without 
being questioned. 

Freder, son of the mammoth industrialist who controls the whole 
of Metropolis, is true to type: he rebels against his father and joins 
the workers in the lower city. There he immediately becomes a 
devotee of Maria, the great comforter of the oppressed. A saint 
rather than a socialist agitator, this young girl delivers a speech 
to the workers in which she declares that they can be redeemed only 
if the heart mediates between hand and brain. And she exhorts her 
listeners to be patient : soon the mediator will come. The industrialist, 
having secretly attended this meeting, deems the interference of the 
heart so dangerous that he entrusts an inventor with the creation 
of a robot looking exactly like Maria. This robot-Maria is to incite 
riots and furnish the industriahst with a pretext to crush the 
workers' rebellious spirit. He is not the first German screen tyrant 
to use such methods; Homunculus had introduced them much 
earlier.^** Stirred by the robot, the workers destroy their torturers, 
the machines, and release flood waters which then threaten to drown 
their own children. If it were not for Freder and the genuine Maria, 
who intervene at the last moment, all would be doomed. Of course, 
this elemental outburst has by far surpassed the petty Httle upris- 
ing for which the industrialist arranged. In the final scene, he is 
shown standing between Freder and Maria, and the workers ap- 
proach, led by their foreman. Upon Freder's suggestion, his father 
shakes hands with the foreman, and Maria happily consecrates this 
symbolic alliance between labor and capital [Ulus. 27] . 

On the surface, it seems that Freder has converted his father; 
in reality, the industrialist has outwitted his son. The concession 
he makes amounts to a policy of appeasement that not only prevents 
the workers from winning their cause, but enables him to tighten 
his grip on them. His robot stratagem was a blunder inasmuch as 
it rested upon insufficient knowledge of the mentality of the masses. 
By yielding to Freder, the industrialist achieves intimate contact 
with the workers, and thus is in a position to influence their men- 
tality. He allows the heart to speak — a heart accessible to his in- 

In fact, Maria's demand that the heart mediate between hand 

2* For the mixture of story ingredients in Met&opoijs, see article by Willy Haas 
on this film (^Kinemato graph, Jan. 11, 1927), quoted by Zaddach, Der Kterarische FUm, 
p. 62. 




and brain could well have been formulated by Goebbels. He, too, 
appealed to the heart — ^in the interest of totalitarian propaganda. 
At the Nuremberg Party Convention of 1934, he praised the "art" 
of propaganda as follows : "May the shining flame of our enthusiasm 
never be extinguished. This flame alone gives Ught and warmth to 
the creative art of modern political propaganda. Rising from the 
depths of the people, this art must always descend back to it and find 
its power there. Power based on guns may be a good thing; it is, 
however, better and more gratifying to win the heart of a people 
and to keep it." The pictorial structure of the final scene confirms 
the analogy between the industrialist and Goebbels. If in tliis scene 
the heart really triumphed over tyrannical power, its triimiph would 
dispose of the all-devouring decorative scheme that in the rest of 
Metropolis marks the industrialist's claim to omnipotence. Artist 
that he was, Lang could not possibly overlook the antagonism be- 
tween the breakthrough of intrinsic human emotions and his orna- 
mental patterns. Nevertheless, he maintains these patterns up to the 
very end: the workers advance in the form of a wedge-shaped, 
strictly symmetrical procession which points towards the industrialist 
standiag on the portal steps of the cathedral. The whole composition 
denotes that the industrialist acknowledges the heart for the purpose 
of manipulating it; that he does not give up his power, but will 
expand it over a realm not yet annexed — ^the realm of the collective 
soul. Freder's rebellion results in the establishment of totalitarian 
authority, and he considers this result a victory. 

Freder's pertinent reaction corroborates what has been said 
about the way in which the street films as well as the youth films 
anticipate the change of the "system." Now it can no longer be 
doubted that the '^ew order" both series foreshadow is expected 
to feed upon that love with which Asta Nielsen's prostitute over- 
flows, and to substitute totalitarian discipline for the obsolete me- 
chanical one. In the case of Meteopolis, Goebbels' own words bear 
out the conclusions drawn from this film. Lang relates that imme- 
diately after Hitler's rise to power Goebbels sent for him: ". . . he 
told me that, many years before, he and the Fiihrer had seen my 
picture Metropolis in a small town, and Hitler had said at that time 
that he wanted me to make the Nazi pictures." 

31 Cf. p. 299 f. 

^ "PritsB Lang," New York World Telegram, Jime H, 1941, 


During the stabilized era, along with those two groups of films which 
testify to the state of paralysis and shed light on the paralyzed 
psychological content, appears a third group still more character- 
istic. The films of this group reveal the workings of the paralyzed 
collective soul. They elucidate the ways in which the collective soul 
reacted to the existing situation. 

The most important films of this group were animated by the 
spirit of "New Objectivity" {Neue SacMichkeit) which during the 
stabilized period manifested itself in the sphere of real life as well 
as in the sphere of art. This spirit also materialized in other coun- 
tries, but it was in Germany that "the netbe SacMichkeit first became 
self-conscious, and ... is strongest relatively and intrinsically." ^ 
In 1924, Gustav Hartlaub, director of the Mannheim Museum, 
coined the term "Netce SachlicJikeif^ to define the new realism in 
painting. "It was related," he says of this realism, "to the general 
contemporary feeling in Germany of resignation and cynicism after 
a period of exuberant hopes (which had found an outlet in expres- 
sionism) . Cynicism and resignation are the negative side of the Neue 
SacMichkeit ; the positive side expresses itself in the enthusiasm for 
the immediate reality as a result of the desire to take things entirely 
objectively on a material basis without immediately investing them 
with ideal implications." ^ Hartlaub and, somewhat later, Fritz 
Schmalenbach both emphasize disillusionment as an emotional source 
of the new current.^ 

In other words, New Objectivity marks a state of paralysis. 

Cynicism, resignation, disillusionment: these tendencies point to a 

mentality disinclined to conmiit itself in any direction. The main 

» Barr, "Otto Dix," The ArU, Jan. 1981, p. 2ST. 

» Letter from Hartlaub, quoted by Barr, ibid., p. 2S6, footnote* 

8 Schmalenbach, "The Term Neue Sachlichkeit," Art Bidletin, Sept. 1940, pp. 161, 

168-64; Hartlaub, **Zur Einfiihrung," Die neue SachUchkett . . , Sachsischer Kunst- 

verein Dresden, 18 Oct.-22 Nov. 1925, pp. 8-4. 




feature of the new realism is its reluctance to ask questions, to take 
sides. Reality is portrayed not so as to make facts yield their im- 
plications, but to drown all implications in an ocean of facts, as in 
the Ufa Kulturfilme, ^We have lost the power of faith," August 
Ruegg confesses in 1926, "and, since the wheels of the world-mecha- 
nism seem to continue to move on their own impetus, we accustom 
ourselves to living on without trust or a feeHng of responsibility. 
. . . One slides along either elegantly or wearily and lets the others 
slide along in a similar manner." * This is the language of a para- 
lyzed mind. 

A position of complete disillusionment is extremely difScult to 
maintain. Hartlaub himself differentiates between two wings of New 
Objectivity: a romanticizing right wing and a left wing "bearing a 
socialist flavor." This socialist flavor was found in many paintings, 
architectural structures, and so forth, which showed themselves 
infatuated with technological concepts and forms ; their whole ap- 
pearance revealed them to be inspired by a belief in the social mission 
of modern technology. They breathed, or seemed to breathe, socialist 
optimism. Meyer Schapiro is doubtless right in identifying this 
optimism as "the reformist illusion, which was especially widespread 
in the brief period of post-war prosperity . . , that the technologi- 
cal advance, in raising the living standards of the people, in lower- 
ing the costs of housing and other necessities, would resolve the con- 
flict of classes, or at any rate form in the technicians habits of 
efficient, economic planning, conducive to a peaceful transition to 
socialism." ^ The illusion consisted in attributing to technological 
advance the power of bringing about changes that can be attained 
only by organized political effort. Technical progress may serve any 
master. This accounts for the ambiguity inherent in the socialist- 
flavored products of New Objectivity. The architecture of this style 
was echoed throughout fascist Italy; in Germany itself it often 
seemed strangely hollow, thus disavowing its socialist implications. 

Since the German screen adopted this equivocal realism, one is 
safe in assimiing that from a psychological point of view the socialist 
attitudes of the time had by no means the character of primary 
impulses. They were much weaker than the authoritarian disposi- 
tions had ever been; in fact, they could develop only because these 

* Ruegg, «Vom grossen Unbehagen unserer Zeit," quoted by Samuel and Thomas, 
Expressionism in German Xdfe, p. 174. 

» Hartlaub, "Zur Einfiihrung," ibid., and letter from Hartlaub, quoted by Barr, 
"Otto Dix," The Arts, Jan. 1981, p. 286, footnote. 

« Schapiro, "Nature of Abstract Art," Marwiat Quarterly, Jan.~March 1987, p. 97. 



authoritarian dispositions were actually paralyzed. Resting upon 
frozen ground, they were surface excitements and as such incapable 
of upsetting the essential indifference of the 'Neue SacJilichJceif. 
(The "reformist illusion" reflected the state of inner paralysis in- 
asmuch as it completely overlooked the part passions and decisions 
play in any social evolution.) This psychological situation was of 
course open to changes. The authoritarian dispositions might awaken 
from their paralysis and then do away with all liberal and socialist 
tendencies; or the latter might gain momentum and increasingly 
absorb those paralyzed dispositions. 

The Austrian G. W. Pabst was prominent among the directors 
cultivating the new realism. He came to the cinema from the theater, 
which he had left because of his doubts as to its artistic future. He 
was a late arrival in the studios ; it was only at the end of the postwar 
period that he made his first film, Deb Schatz (The Treasure, 
1924), a legend of love and greed clumsily unfolding within medi- 
eval decors. This dull and impersonal product demonstrated that 
Pabst felt himself a stranger ia a period bent on externalizing inner 
conflicts and longings without any regard for the given facts. Pabst 
was a realist. He once said in a conversation: "What need is there 
for romantic treatment.^ Real life is too romantic, too ghastly." 

Real Hfe was his true concern. He began to penetrate it in Die 
FREUDLOSE Gasse (The Joyxess Street, 1925), an adaptation 
of a novel by Hugo Bettauer which had been serialized in Vienna's 
leading newspaper, NeiLe Freie Presse, The film, which soon won 
fame in Germany and abroad, pictured Vienna during the inflation, 
with special emphasis on the pauperization of the middle class. 
Pabst's unhesitating realism in rendering this decline shocked his 
contemporaries. England prohibited public showings of the film. 
The versions released in Italy, France, Austria, and elsewhere were 
considerably mutilated.^ 

The Jcxxess Street contrasts tough profiteers and destitute 
middle-class people ; expensive restaurants sparkling with Kght and 
dim-lit homes visited by himger; noisy effervescence and silent with- 
drawal into sadness. Surrounded by sadness, the elderly councillor 
Rumfort sees his savings vanish and finally faces starvation. He 
would be lost if it were not for his daughter — Garbo in her first 
important role — ^who succeeds in getting a dubious job as a night- 

Quoted from Bryher, "G. W. Pabst. A Survey," Close Up^ Dec. 192T, p. 60. 
8 Cf. Rotha, FUm Tin Now, p. 87. 


club dajicer. The niin of this bourgeois family is portrayed with a 
social consciousness that transforms it into a typical case. One series 
of episodes shows the profiteers and their parasites trading stocks, 
making love to spectacular women and snatching all the joys that 
money can buy. Another series details the lot of those on the losing 
side. In their fight for survival a few of them are tragically ham- 
pered by inherited decency. Rumfort suffers for the stubbornness 
with which he shrinks from the slightest concession. Asta Nielsen as 
the kept woman demonstrates that uncompromising love is likely to 
perish in a society in which marketable goods supplant the essen- 
tials.^ However, she is an outsider, emotionally and socially. Most 
middleclass characters proper try to compromise, or simply yield 
to the powers of corruption. Pabst's film of the inflation elaborates 
upon lie interrelationship between the enforced economic decay of 
the middle class and the selling-out of its moral values. What he 
exhibits — for the first time from the angle of a realistic observer — 
is the feverish finale of that postwar world which, while it still ex- 
isted, expressed its inmost preoccupations through screen fantasies 
wavering between the images of tyranny and chaos. 

The ghastliness of this world is displayed in scenes that seem 
to record imstaged events. Everyday life of the time unveils itself 
in the episode of the "joyless street": a crowd on the verge of despair 
queues up before the butcher's shop, and, accompanied by his grim 
white dog, Werner Krauss as the brutal butcher walks off to fetch 
a policeman [Ulus. 31]. In this effective scene nothing is stylized; 
rather, it springs from the desire to watch the course events take 
of their own accord. Pahst *^et his characters unfold their plight 
without the inquisitional rack." A convincing proof of his innate 
realism is the short scene in which Garbo hangs the new fur coat 
given her in some questionable shop close to her threadbare old coat. 
For a moment the two coats are seen hanging side by side. In any of 
Carl Mayer's postwar fihns, this shot would have had to symbolize 
the change of Garbo's condition; in the Pabst fihn, it just shows the 
two coats in a chance combination which may, or may not, convey a 
symbolic meaning [Ulus. 32] . Instead of arranging significant pic- 
torial compositions, Pabst arranges real-life material with veracity 
as his sole object. His is the spirit of a photographer. What Iris 

Cf. p. 167. For the film in general, see also Rotha, FUm TiU Now, esp, p. 185; 
Film Society Programme, Jan. 16, 1927. 

*0Potamk5n, "Pabst and the Social Film," Bound |: Horn, Janr-March 1988, 
p. 294. 



Barry says about his Love op Jeanne Net also applies to The 
Joyless Street : "Pabst's work here is in no sense picturesque, it is 
photographic. His settings and his individual scenes are quite as 
carefully composed as those of the more obviously artistic German 
fihns, but the craftsmanship is less apparent, the spectator is led 
to feel *how true' rather than 'how beautiful.' " Compared to the 
open universe into which The Joyless Street embarks, the world 
of Variety is rather an indoor affair. 

It was a strange coincidence that, shortly before the Pabst film, 
an American fihn about the German inflation appeared: D. W. 
Griffith's Isn't Life Wonderful? Griffith, the great pioneer of the 
cinema, had been eager for genuine local color; he had shot the 
exteriors in Germany, and entrusted several native actors with im- 
portant roles. His plot differed from Pabst's in that it featured, 
instead of a German middle-class family, a group of Polish refugees, 
the Poles being more popular with the American public than the 
Germans. Nevertheless, the two films had traits in common. Par- 
ticularly striking was the similarity in their treatment of everyday 
life under the inflation : like The Joyless STRESTy the American 
film focused upon a queue of despondent people besieging a butcher's 
shop. Pabst may well have been influenced by the emphasis Griffith 
put on this sequence, and also by the realism with which he handled 
the backgrounds and all the fleeting moments of life. Griffith's real- 
ism was as naive as the message it served to impart. The pacifist 
credo inherent in his film manifested itself plainly through the 
reasoning of one of the leading characters — a German worker 
grieved over his wife's suffering imder the famine. This worker, 
having knocked down a man to rob him of his potatoes, emphatically 
harangues the audience : "Yes, beasts we are ; beasts they have made 
us. Years of war — ^beasts they have made us." In addition, Griffith 
preached "the triumph of love over hardship," answering the 
question "Isn't life wonderful?" in the affirmative. The young Polish 
couple whom he makes the standard-bearers of his invincible op- 
timism pass through the horrors of the German postwar world 
without being seriously afflicted, and at the end find happiuess in 
a tiny wooden cottage.^^ 

While Griffith in his ill-founded reformist zeal does not confine 

11 Barry, Program Notes, Series III, program 8. 
Cf. Jacobs, American Film, p. 898; "Isn't Life Wonderful?" Exceptional Photo- 
plays, Dec-Jan. 1925, p. 5. 



himself to presenting life as it is, Pabst seems to have no other am- 
bition. With a profound sense of fact he exhibits the predicament 
of the middle class and the moral confusion of the time. But although 
his pictorial statements never go so far as to suggest a line of con- 
duct, a solution after the manner of Griffith, they undeniably point 
to the relation between individual suffering and social injustice. At 
any rate, this was the impression they made upon many intellectuals ; 
to them, Pabst's realism appeared a moral protest, if not a socialist 

On the other hand, The Joyless Street inclines toward melo- 
drama.^^ Theoretically, Pabst could have yielded to this tendency 
for the purpose of making his realism acceptable. But his marked 
interest in melodramatic motifs indicates that their insertion is not 
due merely to such practical considerations. The longish episode 
featuring Asta Nielsen disavows his realistic designs and radiates 
his infatuation with this improbable figure. As Stroheim's famous 
Greed (1924) proves, melodrama need not drain realism of its 
inner weight. But in The J otuess Street it tends to do precisely 
this. At the very moment when, according to Pabst's own premises, 
Rumfort and his daughter are bound to become full-fledged victims 
of the inflation, a beautiful lieutenant of the American Red Cross 
emerges as deus ex machma^ and instantly makes these two people 
happy. Pabst is sufficiently courageous to detail the ghastliness of 
social misery, but he does not mind cutting short the conclusions 
that might be drawn from his report. His weakness for melodrama 
counterbalances those implications of his realism which a generation 
not yet accustomed to the free display of camera reality too readily 
took for granted. 

After an unimportant film, Mait speelt nicht mit der Liebe 
(Don't Play with Love, 1926), Pabst staged Geheimnisse einer 
Seele (Secrets op a Soul, 1926) — ^a neat account of a psycho- 
analytical case drawn up with the assistance of two collaborators of 
Freud, Dr. Hanns Sachs and the late Dr. Karl Abraham. A pro- 
fessor of chemistry (Werner Krauss) learns that his wife's cousin, 
a handsome fellow, has announced his return from India. The three 
were playmates in their childhood. Under the impact of this news 
and certain other occurrences, the professor is anguished by a dream 

i^Potamkm, "Pabst and the Social Fjam," Sound ^ Horn, Jan^March 1988, 
p. 294; Rotha, FUm TUl Now, p. 18T. 



in which reminiscences involving the cousin mingle with confused 
scenes denoting his longing for a child. The dream culminates in 
his attempt to stab his wife with a dagger. Next day, he is possessed 
by an inexplicable fear of touching knives, and this phobia makes 
him act in such a strange manner that his wife and the cousin are 
deeply disquieted. His own despair reaches its climax when, alone 
with his wife, he can hardly resist the compulsion to commit the 
murder anticipated in his dream. He flees from his home to his 
mother's place, and then consults a psychoanalyst who asks him to 
stay with his mother for the duration of the treatment. 

Now the film summarizes a series of sessions dominated by the 
professor's narrative : Fragments of his dream alternate with various 
recollections, and from time to time the psychoanalyst is seen listen- 
ing to the narrator or contributing explanations. Under his guid- 
ance, the elements of the jigsaw puzzle gradually arrange them- 
selves into a comprehensible whole. In his childhood days the pro- 
fessor was jealous of his future wife's outspoken interest in her 
cousin; his jealousy engendered strong feelings of inferiority which 
after his marriage made him fall prey to a sort of psychological 
impotence; and the impotence on its part produced a guilty con- 
science that some day or other was bound to manifest itself in an 
irresponsible action. The treatment ends with the salutary shock he 
experiences in recognizing the subconscious forces that have held his 
mind in their grip. Preed from his inhibitions, a happy man, he 
returns home.^* 

The similarities between this film and E.obison*s Warning 
Shadows, of 1922, are conspicuous.^* Both are concerned with a 
mentally unbalanced character cured by means of psychoanalytical, 
or quasi-psychoanalytical, methods; both emphasize the fact that, 
prior to his recovery, this character acts in an immature way. Like 
the exuberant count in Warning Shadows, Pabst's sober professor 
performs the gesture through which most males of the German screen 
express their immaturity : no sooner does he awaken from his night- 
marish dream than he puts his head into his wife*s protective lap. 
Another scene illustrates his retrogressive conduct even more strik- 
ingly. Having cut his meat into small pieces, his mother watches him 
ladle it with the spoon she has substituted for the dreadful knife — 

i*Cf. Rotha, ibid., p. 186; Kalbus, DeuUchs FilmJcunat, I, 96-96; etc 

See pp. 118 f.— Films in a similar vein were Gpune*s JsALOUsr (cf. p. 156) and 
the Ufa film Lcbbestetjeb, both of 1925. 



watches turn as tenderly as if he were still her helpless little child. 
Yet what makes Secbets of a Soul essentially different from 
Warning Shadows is its unconcern for the significance of this retro- 
gression. While Robison's expressive screen fantasy quivers with an 
excitement indicating the vital importance of the issues involved, 
Pabst's film maintains the coohiess of an expert report on some 
psychoanalytical case. Secrets of a Soul has rightly been called a 
"clever blend of a fihn of fiction and a documentary film." In his 
zeal for documentary objectivity, Pabst adheres anxiously to matter- 
of-fact statements : no shot assmnes a symbolic function, no passage 
implies that the professor's frustration may well mirror that of a 
multitude of Germans. 

Two circumstances confirm the suspicion that this film which 
demonstrates how an individual can be relieved of his complexes is 
itself the product of a state of paralysis. First, at the film's very 
end the scene shifts to a mountain landscape, with the professor 
holding a brand-new baby in his arms. It is an epilogue which drags 
the whole plot into the sphere of mdodrama, thus definitely nullify- 
ing its broader implications. Second, technical skill grows rampant. 
Pabst seems to have been interested not so much in his theme proper 
as in the opportunity it offers for testing certain cinematic devices — 
in particular those fit to externalize psychological processes [Illus. 
33] . As a piece of artistry his fihn is remarkable. When, for instance, 
the professor in the course of his treatment remembers bits of his 
previous dream, these are no longer shown within their original sur- 
roundings, but are set against a white background so as to charac- 
terize them as stray recollections.^'^ No doubt, Pabst is a consum- 
mate psychologist ; however, his psychological finesse is grafted upon 
indifference to the primary events of inner life. Potamkin in his 
comment on Secrets of a Soul is justified in saying of its director: 
"Psychologism became his preoccupation." 

Pabst's subsequent film was Die Liebe der Jeanne Net (The 
Love of Jjbanne Net, 1927), an Ufa production in which he turned 
from the secrets of the individual soul to those of a world in turmoil. 
He now resumed on a larger scale what he had begun in The Joyless 

^* Quoted from Kalbus, Deutsche FUmkunst, I, 96. 
Cf. Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 186. 

Potamkin, "Pabst and the Social Film," Hound ^ Horn, Jan^March 1988, 

p. 295. 



Street. This time, the plot, instead of involving a single European 
capital, encompassed virtually the whole of European postwar society, 
including Soviet Russia. That Ufa should acknowledge the existence 
of Bolsheviks and even treat them as human beings was not a miracle. 
Ufa simply thought it good business to capitalize on the Russian 
fashion inaugurated by Eisenstein's Potemkik and Pudovkin's 
Mother — ^fihns that had been the rage all over Germany. Naturally, 
many Germans praised them not so much for their revolutionary con- 
tent as for their artistic novelty and national vigor.^^ 

The Love of Jeanne Net was based upon Ilya Ehrenburg's 
novel of the same title. At that time, Ehrenburg had not yet gained 
oflScial prestige. A unique combination of Soviet journalist and Eu- 
ropean bohemian, he wrote books that fused brilliant, if super- 
ficial, satire with sentimental romance. His headquarters were in 
Paris, and he seemed emotionally attached to that Western civiliza- 
tion which he nevertheless accused of being utterly morbid. Ufa 
probably took to his novel because of its colorful plot and its tinge 
of melodrama. It is concerned with the love between Jeanne Ney, 
a French bourgeois girl, and the young Russian conmaunist Andreas 
— ^a love that asserts itself in the Crimea during the civil war, and 
then develops into a great passion in Paris, the center of declining 
democracy. But wherever the two lovers meet, an unscrupulous 
adventurer, Khalibiev, intervenes and like a demon thwarts their 
fragile hopes. Khalibiev is a true incarnation of those evil forces 
which have their heyday in a period of transition, when all values 
are confused. Such a period is favorable both to horrible crimes 
and to heroic sacrifices. This may have encouraged Ehrenburg to 
indulge in black-and-white contrasts. In the Crimea, Andreas kills 
Jeanne's father for political reasons, but she immediately forgives 
him. In Paris, Jeanne finds employment in the detective agency of 
her imcle, a stingy bourgeois, whose blind daughter has all the traits 
of an angel devised by Victor Hugo or a naive author in some 
pulp magazine. The relentless Elhalibiev proposes to her, and 
simultaneously tries to lay hands on Jeanne — ^a Jeanne glowing with 
joy over her rendezvous with Andreas. Ehrenburg has contrived to 
make the communist party send Andreas on a mission to Paris. Now 

The Berlin premifere of PoTEMKur was on April 29, 1026. The film was selected 
as the best film of 1926 in Germany? see Weinberg, Scrapbooks, 1925-27. Gnine 
praised Potbmkis- for being a truly national film; cf. Grune, **T\^as Karl Gmne . . 
Film^Photof, p. 15. 



the ultimate catastrophe sets in, with Khalibiev as its perpetrator. 
He breaks into the detective agency to steal a precious diamond; 
and when confronted by Jeanne's uncle, he murders him, and succeeds 
in turning aU suspicions against her lover. Andreas is done for, and 
Jeanne is lost. 

Of course, Ufa radically removed the moral and political poison 
this story contained.^^ In the fihn, Jeanne is spared the disgrace 
of loving the murderer of her father; it is Andreas' companion who 
kills him. In her attempt to rescue Andreas the Jeanne of the novel 
becomes Khalibiev's mistress ; the screen Jeanne manages at the very 
last moment to shun his odious embraces. The scrupulous Ufa ver- 
sion does not allow her to sleep with Andreas in the cheap hotel room 
they share for a night, but forces the lovers to spend the night on 
separate chairs. This shameless bowdlerizing goes hand in hand 
with irresponsible optimism. Ehrenburg's terrible finale is super- 
seded by a happy ending which assumes much the same structural 
function as the endings of the previous Pabst films. To make An- 
dreas, the communist, acceptable, Ufa arbitrarily portrays him as 
a potential convert; upon Jeanne's suggestion he follows her into a 
Paris church where he kneels beside her before the altar. On the 
other hand, the film unhesitatingly goes beyond the novel in detailing 
communist agitation in France. The clandestine Paris press which 
prints subversive leaflets is a pure Ufa invention. Ufa may have 
taken pleasure in elaborating upon the embarrassments of a democ- 

Pabst was told to stage his picture "in the American style." 
He tried to do so in the scenes that show Jeanne's uncle and his 
detectives recovering a diamond lost by an American millionaire — 
the very diamond which is to arouse Khalibiev's murderous instincts. 
However, these scenes with their iQsistence upon comic "gags" are 
nothing more than clever imitations and as such inferior to the rest 
of the film. In a remark to an interviewer, Pabst himself indicated 
the impossibility of Americanizing German pictures, "for the whole 
of our mentality is different. . . ." While he felt uneasy about 
concessions to Holljrwood, he readily pelded to the spirit of the Rus- 
sian films. His scenes of the civil war are strongly influenced by 
Eisenstein and Pudovkin; he even repeats that typically Russian 

20 See Ehrenburg, ^Protest gegen die Ufa," Frankfurter Zeitung, Feb. 29, 1928, 

21 Cf. p. 185.— Eotha, FUm Till iVoir, p. 186. 

«a MacPherson, *T>ie Liebe der Jeanne Ney,** Olo»e Up, Dec. 1927, p. 18 j Pabst, 
"Servitude et Grandeur d'Hollywood," Le Rdle intelleotuel du Cinima, pp. 251-^5. 



shot of a character taken from bdow eye-level so as to symbolize his 
arrogance or his lust for power. 

Yet all this does not invalidate the originality of Pabst's achieve- 
ment. His Love of Jeanne Net exceeds his Jotuess Street not 
only in scope of vision, but in the determination with which it records 
reality. In rendering it, Pabst proves as inventive as insatiable. The 
sequence of the Crimean civil war includes an orgy of anti-Bolshevist 
soldiery. "Eor this scene," Kenneth MacPherson reports in Close Vp^ 
"one hundred and twenty Russian officers . . . came in their own 
uniforms, working for twelve marks a day. Pabst supplied vodka 
and women, waited, and then calmly photographed" ^ [lUus, 34]. 
Similarly, Jeanne and Andreas are seen traversing a real Paris 
square — ^two passers-by lost in a chance crowd. Whenever Pabst 
cannot resort to quasi-documentary shots — ^but he relies on them as 
much as possible — ^he stages his scenes in such a manner that they 
nevertheless give the impression of being elicited from life itself. 
As in The Jotless Street, bits of reality seem to be picked up at 
random even in cases in which they serve to symbolize iimer events. 
It appears a mere coincidence that, when in the Crimea Jeanne takes 
leave of Andreas, rain pours down and a throng of poor people sepa- 
rates the two lovers. 

Pabst urged his cameraman, Fritz Amo Wagner, to stick to 
natural light values and make the camera rove about. "At Pabst's 
will," Paul Rotha comments on The Love of Jeanne Ney," 
Wagner's camera nosed into the comers and ran with the players. 
. . . Every curve, every angle, every approach of the lens was con- 
trolled by the material that it photographed for the expression of 
mood." Rotha's remarks imply that in this film the traditional 
camera mobility of the German postwar screen changes its function. 
Carl Mayer uncheuned the camera to picture an imaginary universe 
swept by instincts, and even though E. A Dupont in his Vareett 
adopted the ubiquitous camera with a realistic design, he set up a 
world that was a stylized image of reality rather than its objective 
reflection. Unlike his predecessors, Pabst mobilizes the camera to 
photograph the casual configurations of real life. The Lote of 
Jeanne Ney opens with a scene characterizing liie scoundrel Blhali- 
biev: from the tips of his shoes the camera glides along his legs to 
scattered newspapers, records cigarette stubs on the table, follows 

«3 MacPherson, "Die Liebc der Jeanne Ney," CJobb Up, Dec 1927, p. 21. 
a* Rotha, FUm TiU Now, p. 188. 


his hand as it selects one stub, scrutinizes his face, and finally en- 
compasses part of the dirty hotel room with Khalibiev lying on the 
sofa [Ulus. 36]. 

A personal editing style supplements the camera movement. 
Pabst arranges the manifold shots in such a way that their very 
order reinforces the realistic illusion. Characteristically, even the 
smallest scene consists of a number of shots. Iris Barry remarks of 
that scene in which Khalibiev sells the list of Bolshevist agents to 
Jeanne's father: "It lasts about three minutes. . . Though one is 
scarcely aware of a single shot, there are forty in this short scene — 
needless to say, the director cut and edited the film himself ." In 
combining these atomlike picture frames, Pabst goes the limit. Was 
he influenced by the emphasis Eisenstein and Pudovkin put on "mon- 
tage".? The cuts in such screen epics as Potemkin and Mother 
have throughout the character of shocks calculated to transform the 
narrative into a dialectic process which ends with the triumph of the 
proletariat. But nothing of that kind holds true of The Love of 
Jeanne Net; this film is far from spreading the Marxist doctrine, 
and moreover conceals rather than stresses its cuts. Nor was Pabst's 
editing technique the organic outcome of German screen traditions. 
Much as they cultivated the moving camera, Carl Mayer and Dupont 
were not yet in a position to realize all the effects that can be pro- 
duced through cutting devices. For good reasons : they did not have 
to depend on such devices to render the self-sufficient world of their 
imagination. Pabst departs from them technically, because he ven- 
tures into the indefinite world of facts. His insistence upon cutting 
results from his keen concern with given reality. He utilizes tiny 
pictorial particles to capture the slightest impressions, and he fuses 
these particles into a finespun texture to mirror reality as a con- 

This reality is postwar Europe in full disintegration. Its ghastli- 
ness unfolds in scenes which are unique not so much for their un- 
hesitating frankness as for their insight into the symptoms of social 
morbidity. Such a symptom is, for instance, the mixture of cruelty 
and obscenity in Khalibiev. Surveying various strata of the popula- 
tion, the film sometimes assumes the character of a report on the 
diseases of European society. It is an infallible sign of Pabst's con- 
noisseurship that this report time and again refers to the testimony 
of inanimate objects. He assigns to them about the same role as did 

a« Barry, Program Notes, Series III, program 8. 



Carl Mayer in his instinct films, but while Mayer emphasized them 
as the landmarks of that mute region inhabited by his instinct- 
possessed characters, Pabst features objects because they help make 
up the kind of reality he wants to explore. In a decaying or transi- 
tional world, whose elements fall asunder, the objects rush out of 
their hiding-places and take on a life of their own. Behind Jeanne, 
who is detained by the victorious Bolsheviks, a broken mirror emerges 
and like a witness tells of glamour and destruction [Blus. 35]. The 
iron washbasin in the room that shelters Jeanne and Andreas for 
a few nocturnal hours testifies to the tristesse emanating from this 
background for futile sex adventures. Through their mere existence 
the objects corroborate what can be inferred from the events: that 
the world presented is a jungle peopled with beasts of prey. The 
film is a tacit accusation. It implies that all human values are 
doomed unless we change society radically. 

But, as in The Joyless Street, Pabst permanently discredits 
his daring attitude. The imaginative way he satisfies Ufa's craving 
for melodrama confirms the strength of his own tendencies in this 
direction. He continues the tradition of the noble-minded prostitutes 
by making a Paris night-club girl bend her knees before the noble- 
minded blind angel; he dramatizes the first Paris meeting between 
Andreas and J eanne by means of an extended traveling shot which 
transforms the lovers into a sort of Tristan and Isolde, and in other 
scenes pictures them as a pair of innocent children whom a malicious 
fairy wants to destroy. These evasive interludes neutralize the accu- 
sation inherent in his realism. Pabst, the neutral observer, obstructs 
Pabst, the moralist. It is noteworthy that his Love of Jeaitne Net 
abounds in precise statements on ephemeral facts. If it holds true 
that only the mind's unconcern for definite meanings enables the 
innimierable phenomena of which reality consists to come to the fore, 
Pabst is an incomparable observer of these phenomena because he 
tends to shun essential questions. The veracity of his pictures — 
veracity should not be mistaken for truth — crests upon his neutrality. 

This unwillingness to follow up vital issues also manifests itself 
through another quality of Pabst's cutting procedures: the accel- 
erated succession of his picture elements- Whereas the Ukrainian film 
directpr Dovzhenko occasionally converts an important shot into a 
stiU so as to impress its meaning upon the mind, Pabst never allows 
the audience to watch any single phenomenon closely. **Every cut,'' 
he himself states, "is made on some movement. At the end of one 



cut somebody is moving, at the begimiing of the adjoining one the 
movement is continued. The eye is thus so occupied in following 
these movements that it misses the cuts." His interest in reality 
as a steady flow is symptomatic of his desire to withdraw from his 
advanced position. 

In the last three fihns he made during the stabilized period, 
Pabst returned from the social scene to the "secrets of a soul." Thus 
he would no longer have to meddle in politics. This change of theme 
was a retreat ; but it may also have been motivated by Pabst's genu- 
ine interest in psychology. All three films deal with the inter- 
relationship between social and psychological processes — ^to be more 
precise, between social disintegration and sexual excesses. In Abwege 
(Crisis, 1928), Brigitte Helm enacts a wealthy middle-class woman 
bored by everyday life with her husband. She establishes head- 
quarters in a fashionable night-club and there joins a clique of 
people who like herself try to drown their disillusionment in de- 
baucheries. The film would be negligible if it were not for the night- 
club scenes in which Pabst manages to evoke the impression that 
his characters are as they are because of the emptiness of the world 
they inhabit.^^ There is also the unforgettable figure of a big doll 
representing an ugly, worn-out roue. When early in the morning 
the clique invades Helm's bedroom to continue the nocturnal orgy 
in her company, the roue is seen lying on the floor, watching the 
exchange of stale caresses with the air of a cynical connoisseur. This 
doll incarnates the spirit of decomposition. 

Pabst's subsequent film was Dee Buchse deb Pajjtdora (Pan- 
dora's Box, 1929), fashioned after Frank Wedekind's play about 
Lxilu, a woman driven by insatiable sex lusts, who destroys all lives 
around her, and her own. In the pursuit of his basic designs, Pabst 
could not but feel attracted by the way in which Wedekind related 
the exuberance of instinctive life to the deterioration of our society. 
Contemporaries considered Pandora's Box a failure. A failure it 
was, but not for the reason most critics advanced. They held that 
Pabst was fundamentally wrong in making a silent film from a liter- 

Quoted from MacPherson, •*DIe Liebe der Jeanne Ney," Close Up, Dec. 1927, 
p. 26.— For camera techniques in this Pabst film, see Baldzs, Der Oeist des Films, 
pp. 70, 78, 

Cf. Rotha, Film Till Now, pp. 188-89, 295; "Abwege (Crisis)," Close Up, 
Sept 1928, pp. 72-75; Potamkin, "Pabst and the Social Pflm," Bound ^ Horn, 
Jan.-^arch 1938, p. 295. 



ary play whose meaning depended mainly upon the fine points of its 
dialogue. However, the film's weakness resulted not so much from the 
impossibility of translating this dialogue into cinematic terms as 
from the abstract nature of the whole Wedekind play. It was a tex- 
ture of argimaents; its characters, instead of living on their own, 
served to illustrate principles. Pabst blundered in choosing a play 
that because of its expressive mood belonged to the fantastic 
postwar era rather than to the realistic stabilized period. The out- 
come of his misplaced endeavors was a film which, as Potamkin puts 
it, "is ^atmosphere' without content." 

Having founded his own film company — ^it turned out to be a 
very short-lived enterprise — ^Pabst produced TAGEstrcH etnter Ver- 
LORENEN (Diary op a Lost One, 1929), an adaptation of Mar- 
garete Bohme's well-known novel, the popularity of which among the 
Philistines of the past generation rested upon the slightly porno- 
graphic frankness with which it recounted the private Hf e of some 
prostitutes from a morally elevated point of view. The fiM trans- 
fers the Wedekind theme from the literary sphere to commonplace 
surroundings more in harmony with Pabst's realistic manner: the 
Lulu of Pandora's Box becomes Thymian, a weak-minded pharma- 
cist's easy-going daughter. Seduced by her father's assistant, a 
villain whom Fritz Rasp endows with all the traits of his Khalibiev, 
Thymian embarks upon a career which leads her straight into a 
brothel. Pabst harps on the immorality of her middle-class environ- 
ment, so that the brothel almost appears to be a health resort. This 
twist, after the fashion of Mrs. Warren's l^rofessionf makes the film 
resemble the street films — ^a resemblance increased by the emphasis 
on Thymian's melodramatic generosity. Here, as in the street films, 
the prostitute with the heart of gold testifies against bourgeois deca- 
dence. But to what end-f* Seemingly unconcerned about the possible 
implications of his criticism, Pabst elaborates upon the decadence 
itself. That he is well aware of its affinity to sadism follows from the 
extraordinary episode of the reformatory to which Thymian is sent. 
In this episode, a sadistic governess gets a thrill from striking out 
the rhythm in which the girls have to eat their soup or move about.^ 

^ Potamkin, ibid,, p. 297. See also Kraszna-Krausz, **G. W. Pabst's TLulu/ " Clos^ 
Up, April 1929, pp. 26-29; Rotha, FUm Till Now, pp. 189-91; synopsis of the film Sn 
Illwtrierter FUm-Kwier, 

^^Arnheim, FUm aU Kvnst, p. 103. See also Amheim, tbid^ p. 73; Chavance, 
•*Trois Pages d'lm Journal," La Bevue du Cinima, June 1, I9S0, pp. 53-M; synopsis 
of the film in lUustrierter Film-Rurier, 



But Pabst, not content with merely describing ber symbolic action, 
also indicates the particular kind of pleasure she derives from it. 
While upon her order the scantily clad girls perform exercises, this 
terrible female marks the tempo and simultaneously swings her head, 
until her whole body is involved in an oscillating movement that 
grows ever faster and then suddenly comes to a stop. Her conduct 
recalls that of the Tsarist officer in The End of St. Petersburg 
who voluptuously watches his underling beat a captured revolu- 
tionary. Like Pudovkin, Pabst acknowledges the role sex plays 
within definite social contexts. 


In the grip of the existing paralysis, the German fibn-makers culti- 
vated a species o£ fihns presenting a cross section of some sphere of 
reality. These films were even more characteristic of the stabilized 
period than the Pabst films, for their neutrality was the logical result 
of the cross-section principle itself. They would have upset their own 
rules if they had sided with any of the pros and cons they surveyed. 
They were the purest expression of New Objectivity on the screen. 
Their such-is-life mood overwhelmed whatever socialist sentiments 
played about in them. 

The first German film of that kind was Die Abenteiter etnies 
Zehnmabkscheins (The Adventures of a Ten-Mark Note, 
1926), produced by Karl Freund for Fox Europe. B^la Balte 
wrote the original script ; he himself called the film a "cross section." ^ 
This picture of Berlin during the inflation consists of a number of 
episodes which record the capricious travels of a ten-mark note con»- 
tinually changing hands. Guided by it, the film meanders through 
the maze of those years, picking up otherwise unrelated characters, 
and glancing over such locales as a factory, a night cafe, a pawn- 
shop, the music room of a profiteer, an emplojnnent agency, a rag- 
picker's den and a hospital. According to Baldzs, it is as if the plot 
"followed a thread that, connecting the dramatic junctions of the 
ways of Fate, leads across the texture of life." ^ 

However, Baldzs was not yet sufficiently bold, or indifferent, to 
substantiate his idea to the full. The documentary character of the 
cross-section pattern is blurred by its combination with a sentimental 
Berlin local drama concerning a worker and a factory girl. Like the 
Polish lovers in Griffith's Isn't Lipe Wonderful?, these two finally 
achieve one of those wooden cabins that spread all over the outskirts 
of Berlin, and, to complete their happiness, the ten-mark note re- 

* Baldzs, "Der Film sucht seinen StofiF," Diff A benteuer eines Zehnmarkscheivs, 
and Baldzs, Der Oeist d68 Films, p. 86. 

^ Bal^, ^Der Film sucht seinen Stoff," Die Abentever eines Zehnmarkschein*. 



turns to them. Its vagabondage not only serves to familiarize the 
audience with the infinite "texture of life,'* but also assumes the 
function of rounding out the local drama. That is, the succession 
of episodes results from two divergent tendencies, only one of which 
conforms to the cross-section principle, while the other obstructs it. 
This ambiguity of meaning explains why the allegedly purposeless 
adventures of the ten-mark note often give the impression of being 
concocted artificially. As if to reinforce the cross-section tendency, 
Berthold ViertePs staging imbues street life with especial signifi- 
cance. "There is a fascinating shot of the villain sitting in the 
window of a cafe. Trams, buses and passers-by are reflected in the 
plate-glass. The city is intent on doing something." ^ The thread 
intersecting various regions of social life is bound to lead through 
the street. 

Street scenes predominate in the prototype of all true German 
cross-section films: Beeun, die Stmphokie einer Grossstadt 
(Berlin, the Symphony of a Great City, 1927). This most im- 
portant film, a quota production of Fox Europe, was devised by 
Carl Mayer. About the time he stigmatized hypocrisy in his Tar- 
TUFFE, Mayer recognized that the moment had come for him to 
turn from the extemalization of inner processes to the rendering of 
externals, from freely constructed plots to plots discovered in the 
given material. Paul Rotha, a close friend of Mayer until the 
latter's death, reports on this symptomatic change of attitude: 
"Mayer was tiring of the restriction and artificiality of the studios. 
All these films had been wholly studio-made. Mayer lost interest 
in ^fictional invention' and wanted his stories to *grow from reality.' 
In 1925, standing amid the whirling traffic of the Ufa Palast am 
Zoo, he conceived the idea of a City Symphony. He saw *a melody 
of pictures' and began to write the treatoent of Berlin.'' * It does 
not lessen Mayer's profound originality that under the influence of 
the spirit of Locarno this idea asserted itself in France as well. 
Cavalcanti's documentary film of Paris, Rien Que Lbs Heures, was 
released a few months before Berun.*^ 

Like Mayer, the cameraman Karl Preund was tired of the studio 

3 Quoted from Blakeston, **The Adventures of a Ten-Mark Note," Cloie Up, 
Nov. 1928, pp. 69-60. 

* Rotha, *'It's in the Script," World FOm News, Sept. 1938, p. 205. 

s Cf. Rotha, Documsntary FUm, pp. S7-88j PiVm Society Programme, March 4, 



and its artifices, so he enthusiastically espoused Mayer's project and 
set out to shoot Berlin scenes with the voracious appetite of a man 
starved for reality. "I wanted to show everything/' he himself re- 
lates in a revealing interview in 1939. "Men getting up to go to work, 
eating breakfast, boarding trams or walking. My characters were 
drawn from all the walks of life. From the lowest laborer to the bank 
president." ^ Freund knew that to such ends he would have to rely 
on candid-camera work. Craftsman that he was, he hypersensitized 
the stock film which was then on the market, so as to cope with poor 
lighting conditions, and moreover invented several contrivances to 
hide the camera while shooting.*^ He would drive in a half -enclosed 
truck with slots in the sides for the lens or he would walk about with 
the camera in a box that looked like an innocent suitcase. No one 
ever suspected that he was taking pictures. Asked at the end of the 
above-mentioned interview whether he considered candid photogra- 
phy an art, Freund answered, glowing with zeal: "It is the only type 
of photography that is really art. Why? Because with it one is able 
to portray life. These big negatives, now, where people smirk and 
grimace and pose. . . . Bah! That's not photography. But a very 
fast lens. Shooting life. Realism. Ah, that is photography in its 
purest form. . . ^ 

Walter Ruttmann, who up to then had excelled in abstract films, 
edited the immense amount of material assembled by Freund and 
several other photographers. His sense of optical music made Rutt- 
mann seem the right man to produce "a melody of pictures." He 
worked in close collaboration with the young composer Edmund 
Meisel, known for his interesting score for Potemkin. Meisel 
dreamed of synchronizing Ruttmann's visual symphony with a 
symphonic composition which might even be performed independ- 
ently of the film. The role he reserved for the music was bound to 
strengthen the formal tendency of the editing.^ 

Rutfcmann's Berlin is a cross section of a Berlin working day 

in late spring. Its opening sequence pictures the city at dawn: a 

night express arrives, and streets still void of human life seem the 

» Evans, **Karl Freund, Candid Cinematographer," Popular Photography, Feb. 
1989, p. 51. 

'' Evans, ibid., pp. 61, 88-89; Blakeston, 'Interview with Carl Freund," Close Up, 
Jan. 1929, pp. 60-61. 
» Evans, ibi(L, p. 89. 

^FUm Society Programme, March 4, 1928; Mdsel, **Wie schreibt man Filmmnsik," 
UforMagasAa, April 1-7, 1927. For Ruttmann's other films during that period, see 
Film Society Programme, May 8, 1927. 



very counterpart of that limbo which the mind traverses between 
sleep and consciousness. Then the city awakens and stirs. Scores of 
workers set out for their factories ; wheels begin to turn ; telephone 
receivers are lifted off. The passage devoted to the morning hours 
is filled with glimpses of window-dressings and typical street inci- 
dents. Noon : the poor, the wealthy and the animals in the zoo are 
seen eating their lunch and enjoying a short respite. Work is re- 
sumed, and a bright afternoon sun shines over crowded caf ^ terraces, 
newspaper vendors, a woman drowning herself. Life resembles a roller 
coaster. As the day fades, the machine wheels stop, and the business 
of relaxation begins. A kaleidoscopic arrangement of shots surveys 
all kinds of sports, a fashion show, and a few instances of boys 
meeting girls or trying to meet them. The last sequence amounts 
to a pleasure drive through nocturnal Berlin, luminous with ruthless 
neon lights. An orchestra plays Beethoven ; the legs of girl dancers 
perform; Chaplin's legs stumble across a screen; two lovers, or 
rather two pairs of legs, make for the nearest hotel ; and finally a 
true pandemonium of legs breaks loose: the six-day race going on 
and on without interruption, 

"The film as Ruttmann made it," Rotha reports, *Vas far from 
Mayer's conception. Its surface approach was what Mayer had tried 
to avoid. He and Ruttmann agreed to differ." This accounts for 
Mayer's early withdrawal from the production of Berlin. (His next 
enterprise — years before the appearance of river films in America 
and France — ^was a script narrating the story of the Danube. But 
this script was never produced.) 

When Mayer criticized Beri^ik for its "surface approach," he 
may well have had in mind Ruttmann's method of editing. This 
method is tantamount to a ^'surface approach," inasmuch as it relies 
on the formal qualities of the objects rather than on their meanings. 
Ruttmann emphasizes pure patterns of movement.^^ Machine parts 
in motion are shot and cut in such a manner that they turn into 
dynamic displays of an almost abstract character. These may sym- 
bolize what has been called the "tempo" of Berlin ; but they are no 
longer related to machines and their functions. The editing also 
resorts to striking analogies between movements or forms.^^ Human 
legs walking on the pavement are followed by the legs of cows; a 

10 Rotha, "It's in the Script," WorU Film News, Sept. 1988, p. 205. 

Cf. Film Society Programme^ Jan. 18, 1929. 
" Baldzs, Der Geist dea Films, p. 59. For other devices in Bebxik, see Arnheim, 
Film als Kunst, p. 98, and Rotha, Film TiU Nov), p. 295. 



sleeping man on a bench is associated with a sleeping elephant 
[Illus. 37]. In those cases in which Ruttmann furthers the pic- 
torial development through specific content, he inclines to feature 
social contrasts. One picture unit connects a cavalcade in the Tier- 
garten with a group of women beating carpets ; another juxtaposes 
hungry children in the street and opulent dishes in some restaurant. 
Yet these contrasts are not so much social protests as formal ex- 
pedients. Like visual analogies, they serve to build up the cross 
section, and their structural function overshadows whatever signifi- 
cance they may convey. 

In his use of "montage," Ruttmarm seems to have been influenced 
by the Russians — ^to be more precise, by the Russian film director 
Dziga Vertov and his "Kino-eye" group.^® Vertov, infatuated with 
every expression of real life, produced weekly newsreels of a special 
kind from the close of the Civil War on, and in about 1926 began to 
make feature-length films which still preserved a definite newsreel 
character. His intentions and Ruttmann's are much the same. Like 
Ruttmann, Vertov deems it essential to surprise life witii the movie 
camera — ^the "Kino-eye." Like Ruttmann, he cuts his candid shots 
on the rhythmic movements inherent in them. Like Ruttmann, he is 
interested not in divulging news items, but in composing "optical 
music." His Man with the Movie Camera (1929) can be con- 
sidered a lyric documentary.^* 

Notwithstanding such an identity of artistic intentions, Rutt- 
mann's BerI/IN carries a meaning that differs basically from the 
message Vertov's productions impart. This difference originates in 
a difference of given conditions: the two artists apply similar aes- 
thetic principles to the rendering of dissimilar worlds. Vertov en- 
deavors to live up to Lenin's early demand that "the production of 
new films, permeated with communist ideas, reflecting Soviet actual- 
ity, must begin with newsreels." He is the son of a victorious revo- 
lution, and the life his camera surprises is Soviet life — a reality 
quivering with revolutionary energies that penetrate its every ele- 
ment. This reality has a significant shape of its own, Ruttmann, on 

Rotha, DocwMntary FUm, p. 89; Potamkin, "The Rise and Fall of the German 
Film,*' Oinema^ April 1980, p. 25, 

1* Vertov, *TDziga Vertov on Film Technique," prefaced by Moussinac, "Intro- 
duction," FUmfront, Jan. 28, 19BS, pp. 7-9, For Vertov and •*montage'' in Russian films 
and in Bebijn, see Pudovkii, Film Technique, pp. 188-89; Richter, "Ur-Kino," Neue 
ZUrcher Zeitunff, April 2, 1940; Baldzs, Der Geist de» Films, pp. 67-68, 89, 94-95; 
Brody, "Paris hears Eisenstein," Close Up, April 1980, pp. 288-89. 

a« Quoted from Leyda, Program Note*, Series VII, program 2. 



his part, focuses upon a society which has managed to evade revo- 
lution and now, under the stabilized Republic, is nothing but an 
unsubstantial conglomeration of parties and ideals. It is a shapeless 
reality, one that seems to be abandoned by all vital energies. 

Ruttmann's film reflects this reality. The innumerable streets of 
Berxin resemble the studio-built thoroughfare of Grune's The 
Street in yielding an impression of chaos. Symbols of chaos that 
first emerged in the postwar films are here resumed and supplemented 
by other pertinent symbols. Conspicuous in this respect is a unit of 
successive shots combining a roller coaster, a rotating spiral in a 
shop window and a revolving door [Illus. 38]. The many prostitutes 
among the passers-by also indicate that society has lost its balance. 
But no one any longer reacts vigorously against its chaotic condition. 
Another old motif called upon betrays the same lack of concern: the 
policeman who stops the traffic to guide a child safely across the 
street. Like the shots denoting chaos, this motif, which in earlier films 
served to emphasize authority as a redemption, is now simply part of 
the record — & fact among facts. 

The excitement has gone. Indifference remains. That everybody 
is indifferent to his fellow men can be inferred from the formaliza- 
tion of social contrasts as well as from the repeated insertion of 
window-dressings with their monotonous rows of dolls and dummies. 
It is not as if these dummies were humanized; rather, human 
beings are forced into the sphere of the inanimate. They seem 
molecules in a streajoa of matter. In the Ufa brochure on contem- 
porary Eulturfilme, one finds the following description of industrial 
documentaries: "Blast furnaces . . . emit . . . fire vapors, . . . 
white-hot iron pours into molds, material is torn, material is com- 
pressed, material is milled, material is polished, material becomes an 
expression of our time." People in Berlin assume the character 
of material not even polished. Used-up material is thrown away. To 
impress this sort of doom upon the audience, gutters and garbage 
cans appear in close-up, and a? in The Street waste paper is seen 
littering the pavement. The life of society is a harsh, mechanical 
process [Dlus. 39]. 

Only here can the difference between Ruttmann and Vertov be 
fully grasped : it is a difference of attitude. Vertov's continued survey 
of everyday life rests upon his unqualified acceptance of Soviet 
actuality. He himself is part of a revolutionary process which 

i« Cf . p. 142, and also «80 Kulturfilm^" Ufor-Leih, 


arouses passions and hopes. In his lyric enthusiasm, Vertov stresses 
formal rhythms but without seeming indifferent to content. His 
cross sections are "permeated with communist ideas'* even when 
they picture only the beauty of abstract movements. 

Had Ruttmann been prompted by Vertov's revolutionary con- 
victions, he would have had to indict the inherent anarchy of Berlin 
life. He would have been forced to emphasize content rather than 
rhythm. His penchant for rhjrthmic 'Montage" reveals that he 
actually tends to avoid any critical comment on the reality with 
which he is faced. Vertov implies content ; Ruttmann shuns it. This 
reluctance to appraise content is entirely consistent with his obvious 
delight in the "tempo" of Berlin and the marche des machmes}'^ 
Tempo is a formal quality, and the socialist optimism that may 
manifest itself in the machine cult is nothing more than a vague 
"reformist illusion." Here is why Mayer called Bermn a "surface 
approach." He did not object to formal editing as such; what 
he condemned was Ruttmann's formal attitude towards a reality that 
cried out for criticism, for interpretation. To be sure, Mayer was 
no revolutionary like Vertov; but he had a pronounced sense of the 
humane. It is hardly imaginable that he would have misused social 
contrasts as pictorial transitions, or recorded increasing mechaniza- 
tion without objectifying his horror of it. 

Ruttmann's rhythmic '^montage" is symptomatic of a with- 
drawal from basic decisions into ambiguous neutrality. This explains 
the difference between Berlin and the street films. Whereas Berlin 
refrains from idealizing the street, such films as Asphalt and 
Tragedt of the Street praise it as the refuge of true love and 
justified rebellion. These films are like dreams called forth by the 
paralyzed authoritarian dispositions for which no direct outlet is 
left. Berlin is the product of the paralysis itself. 

A few contemporary critics identified it as such. In 1928, I 
stated in Frankfurter Zeit^mgi "Ruttmann, instead of penetrating 
his immense subject-matter with a true understanding of its social, 
economic and political structure . . , records thousands of details 
without connecting them, or at best connects them through fictitious 
transitions which are void of content. His film may be based upon 
the idea of Berlin as the city of tempo and wort ; but this is a formal 
idea which does not imply content either and perhaps for that very 
reason intoxicates the German petty bourgeoisie in real life and 

" Rotha, Film TUl Now, p. 288. 



literature. This symphony fails to point out anything, because it 
does not uncover a single significant context." 

Berlin inaugurated the vogue of cross-section, or "montage," 
films.^® They could be produced at low cost; and they offered a 
gratifying opportunity of showiug much and revealing nothing. 
Several films of that kind utilized stock material. One of them sum- 
marized the career of Henny Porten (1928) ; a second, similarly 
produced by Ufa, extracted love episodes from old movies (Rtind 
UM DEE LiEBE, 1929) ; a third was the Ktdturfilm Deb Wunder der 
Welt (Miracles of the Universe, 1929) , a patchwork of various 
explorer films.^^ 

Of greater interest were two cross-section films which, after the 
manner of Berlin, reported actual life through an assemblage of 
documentary shots. In Markt am Wittenbergplatz (Street 
Markets in Berlin, 1929), Wilfried Basse used the stop-motion 
camera to condense the lengthy procedure of erecting tents and 
stands to a few seconds. It was neat and impretentious pictorial 
reportage, a pleasing succession of such characteristic details as bar- 
gaining housewives, stout market women, glittering grapes, flower 
displays, horses, lazy onlookers and scattered debris. The whole 
amounted to a pointless statement on colorful surface phenomena. 
Its inherent neutrality is corroborated by Basse's indifference to 
the change of political atmosphere under Hitler, In 1934, as if 
nothing had happened, he released Deutschland von Gbstern 
UND Heute, a cross-section film of German cultural life which also 
refused "to penetrate beneath the skin." 

Shortly after this market film, another more important bit of re- 
portage appeared: Menschen am Sonntag (People on Sun- 
day) . Eugen Shuf tan, Robert Siodmak, Edgar Ullmer, Billy Wilder, 
Fred Zinnemann and Moritz Seeler collaborated in the production 
of this late silent film. Its success may have been due to the con- 

18 Kracauer, "Der heutige Film und sein PubHkum," Frankfurter Zeiiunff, Dec. 1, 
1928, Rotha, Documentary Film, p. 161, comments on Beeun in about the same way. 

i»Cf. Potamkin, 'The Rise and Fall of the German Fihn,** Cinemoy Aprfl 1980, 
p. 25. 

«0Cf. Krasama-Krausz, "The Querschnittfilm," Close Uf, Nov. 1928, p. 2T; ^Rund 
um die Liebe," FUm-Hfaffozin, Jan. 27, 1929 ; Stenhouse, **The World on Film," Close 
Up, May 1980, pp. 4.17-18. 

*i Quoted from Rotha, Documentary Film, p. 121. For Steeet Markets in 
Bbeuit, see FUm Society Programme, May 4, 1980; Amheim, FUm ale Kunst, p. 128; 
Baldzs, Der Geiat des Filme, pp. 10^7. 



vincing way it pictured a province of life rarely noticed until then. 
A salesgirl, a traveling salesman, an extra and a chauffeur are the 
fihn's main characters. On Sunday, they leave their dreary homes 
for one of the lakes near Berlin, and there are seen bathing, cooking, 
lying about on the beach, making futile contacts with each other 
and people like them. This is about all. But it is significant inasmuch 
as all the characters involved are lesser employees. At that time, 
the white-collar workers had turned into a political factor. They 
were wooed by the Nazis as well as the Social Democrats, and the 
whole domestic situation depended upon whether they would cling 
to their middle-class prejudices or acknowledge their common in- 
terests with the working class. 

People on Sunday is one of the first films to draw attention 
to the plight of the "little man." In one sequence, a beach photog- 
rapher is busy taking pictures which then appear within the film 
itself. They are inserted in such a way that it is as if the individuals 
photographed suddenly became motionless in the middle of an ac- 
tion.^^ As long as they move they are just average individuals; 
having come to a standstill, they appear to be ludicrous products of 
mere chance. While the stills in Dovzhenko's films serve to disclose 
the significance of some face or inanimate object, these snapshots 
seem designed to demonstrate how little substance is left to lower 
middle-class people. Along with shots of deserted Berlin streets and 
houses, they corroborate what has been said above of the spiritual 
vacuum in which the mass of employees actually lived.^ However, 
this is the sole revelation to be elicited from a film which on the whole 
proves as noncommittal as the other cross-section films. Kraszna- 
Krausz states of it : "Melancholic observation. Not less, not more." 
And Bela Baldzs points out the "fanaticism for facts" animating 
People on Sunday and its like, and then comes to the conclusion : 
"They bury their meaning in an abundance of facts." 

Arnheim, FUm ala Kunst, p. 140. 
as Cf. p. 181 f. 

2* Kraszna-Krausz, "Production, Construction, Hobby," Close Up, April 1980, 
p. 818. 

»5 Baldzs, Der Oeist des Fihns, p. 202. 


The year 1928 marked a change. Politically, it was characterized 
by the Reichstag elections that resulted in an overwhelming victory 
for the so-caUed Marxist parties. Compared with the more than nine 
million votes for the Social Democrats, the nnmber of Nazi votes was 
negligible. The republican regime seemed firmly established.^ This 
political development was accompanied by an intellectual evolution : 
in the field of literature democratic, if not socialist, tendencies began 
to break through the crust of New Objectivity. People scrutinized 
their environment critically and regained the faculty of recollection. 
1928 was a year of war novels which, headed by Remarque's All 
Quiet on the Western Fronts expressed hatred of the war and concern 
for international rapprochement and similar desiderata.* At about 
the same time, leftist writers went in for books which disclosed social 
abuses and reactionary maneuvers. This kind of literature sold well. 
The public enjoyed social criticism. To all appearances a process of 
reorientation was under way. 

At the end of the stabilized period, the screen tends to confirm 
this impression. Under the influence of Erich Pommer, even Ufa 
somewhat relinquished its grand-style manner and cut-to-pattem 
technique. Pommer, who had returned home from America, sug- 
gested and supervised the production of several films which he ob- 
viously intended to make into a synthesis of Hollywood and Neu- 
babelsberg.® One of them was the street film Asphalt ; another was 
Hanns Schwarz's Die wttnuerbare Luge deb Nina Petrowna 
(The Wonderpttl Lie op Nina Petrovna, 1929) , which vaguely 
recalled Hollywood's silent version of Anna Karenina. Nina, mis- 
tress of a Russian colonel, leaves him for one of his lieutenants, and 
finally kills herself to prevent the ruin of her lover's career. Laid 

* Rosenberg, Gesohichte der Deutschen Republik, pp. 217-18. 

* Cf. Samuel and Thomas, Expressionism in German Xdfe, p. 180. — Significantly, 
it was in 1928 that the cameraman Gnido Seebcr suggested the foundation of a 
national film library. See his article "Eine Staats-Kinothek," Berliner Tageblatt, 
Feb. 8, 1928, quoted by Ackerknecht, Lichtspielfrageny pp. 161-52. 

s Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 182. 




in a Russian garrison town, the film opens with a scene showing 
Brigitte Hehn as Nina on a balcony; below her, the lieutenant 
(Frajicis Lederer) is passing by on horseback ahead of his men, and 
while he passes both gaze at each other for an endless moment. At 
the end, that balcony scene is repeated; but now Nina has already 
taken poison and the lieutenant is lost to her. The fihn involved a 
range of deep emotions genuinely motivated. It was an achievement 
which at least indicated that the existing paralysis was on the point 
of being broken up.* 

This becomes the more obvious since Ufa, completely paralyzed 
under the "system," had excelled in misrepresenting emotions. In 
J oe May's Heimkehr (Homecoming, 1928) , also a grade-A Pommer 
production, it continued to do so. The film is based upon Leonhard 
Frank's war novel Karl und Anna^ which describes the flight of 
two German prisoners of war from a Siberian lead mine. Karl suc- 
ceeds in reaching Germany before his friend Richard and is sheltered 
by Richard's wife Anna. Karl and Anna become intoxicated with each 
other. To picture their growing excitement, one scene of the film 
shows them restlessly turning about on beds separated only by a thin 
partition. What can be said in words is not always fit to be presented 
in pictures, for pictures, palpable as they are, sometimes fail to catch 
the implications of the words they illustrate. This grotesque scene is 
a misleading translation of the novel — a translation which under 
the pretense of rendering irresistible love exhibits mere sensuality. 

Homecoming is interesting, though, for emphasizing the motif 
of the "feet that walk." It is not Karl who wanders home from the 
studio-built Siberian lead mine; it is his feet. Marching soldier 
boots change into slippers which in turn give way to foot-bandages 
that are finally superseded by the naked and dusty feet themselves.' 
The use made of this motif reveals the affinity between Home- 
coming and the dreamlike street films. With the paralysis drawing 
to its close, these dreams, stirred by the authoritarian dispositions, 
throbbed more and more distinctly below the surface.® 

*Cf. Rotha, 'Tlastic Design," Close Up, Sept. 1929, pp. 22^-80; etc— Under 
Fommer*s supervision, Schwarz also made UvroAsiscHB Rhafsodie (Hma-ojuuAsir Rhap- 
sody, 1928). 

' Motif mentioned hj Bal^ Der Cfei»t des FUma, pp. 64-$5. 

* For Ho3£ECOMi2ro in general, see program to this film; ^'Homecoming," National 
Board of Bwieio Magassins, Dec 1928, pp. 7, 10; Kalbns, Deutsche Fihnkunst, I, 75. 
In a similar vein was Db. Bzs8ei.*s Vzkwaxbluxo (Dr. Bessel's Metaacohphosis, 
1927) ; cf. Zaddach, Der Kterarische FUm, p. 72.--NAaa:ofiE (Narcosis, 1929), based 
on a script by BalAzs after a Stefan Zwdg story, may also be mentioned in this 
context; cf. synopsis of film in Illustrierter FUm-Kurier, and Baldxs, Der Geist des 
Films, pp. 67, 74. 



Simultaneously with The Wonderful Lee of Nina Petrovna, 
a limited number of socialist-minded films appeared. That they could 
appear at all testifies to the relative strength of the intellectual 
leftist tendencies. To a certain extent these tendencies seemed to be 
enforced by favorable inner attitudes which profited by the paralysis 
of primary authoritarian impulses. The question was whether they 
were more than transitory moods. 

The first leftist films did not run in movie theaters, but formed 
an integral part of Piscator's stage productions. During the stabi- 
lized period, the Berlin Piscator Theater served with its revolu- 
tionary plays as a sort of Grand Guignol for the rich, who enjoyed 
letting themselves be frightened by communism as long as they had 
no real fear of it. Since these plays were impregnated with belief 
in the dependence of the individual upon economic processes and 
class struggles, it was logical that Piscator should resort to bits of 
fihns, for iliey alone proved capable of evoking the social back- 
grounds from which the action proper was supposed to emerge. His 
mise en scene of Ernst Toller's play Hoppla! Wir leben (1927) 
included two film episodes which he had composed with the aid of 
Ruttmann. "The first episode is a War-time prologue to the play, 
which opens with the revolutionaries in prison. The prisoner-hero 
goes mad, and the progress of the external world during his seven- 
years' insanity (1920-1927) is seen in the second reel." ^ Assembled 
from stock material, these reels were projected onto a screen of 
transparent fabric, so that the actors could reappear immediately 
after the screening was over. 

In 1928, the Popular Association for Film Art (Volhsverband 
filr FUmkumt) was founded "to fight reactionary trash on the one 
hand and, on the other, to develop artistically progressive films." ® 
The sweeping success of the great Russian fihns made it seem a 
matter of course that true film art would have to be leftist-minded. 
Sponsored by Heinrich Mann, Pabst, Karl Preund, Piscator and 
others, this noncommercial association — counting democrats as well 
as communists among its ranks — organized groups of congenial 
moviegoers on a nation-wide scale and set out to familiarize them 

^ Quoted from JFUm Society Programm^^ Jan. 26, 1980. See also Freedley and 
Eeeves, Bistory of the Theatre^ pp. 526, 581 j Hellmund-Waldow, "Combinaisonj Le 
FUm et la Sc^e," CI099 U'p, April 1928, pp. 24-37; Gregor, Zeitdlter de$ Films, 
pp. 141-^. 

» Quoted from Schwartaikopf, "Volkverband filr Filmkunst," Clo$e Up, May 
1928, p. 71. 



with superior films full of social criticism. The Association's opening 
performance provoked scandal by showing a cleverly cut newsreel: 
shots and scenes which had all been contained in old Ufa newsreels 
were here combined in such a manner that they suddenly lost their 
political innocence and assumed an inflammatory character. The 
police prohibited this devilish juggler's trick in utter disregard of 
the defendants' objection that the incriminating newsreel was noth- 
ing but an assemblage of unchanged Ufa material.® 

One will remember the Ufa prospectus which defines the KuLtur- 
fLm as the mirror of a beautiful world, and in a survey of its beauties 
does not forget to mention "nimble-footed Chinese before palan- 
quins." The Popular Association antagonized Ufa by distribut- 
ing Shanghai Document, a Russian Kttlturfilm in which those 
"nimble-footed Chinese" appeared as the victimized coolies they 
really were. However, in contrasting them with bathing and dancing 
whites characterized in a subtitle as the representatives of "European 
and American civilization," the film turned from truthful statement 
to biased accusations. An English admirer of Russian film art 
therefore calls Shanghai Document "definitely propagandistic 
in the wrong sense of the term." Yet the leading members of the 
Popular Association included the fihn in their program. A further 
sign of their lack of insight was their choice of Die Wundbr des 
Films (MniACiiES of the Film), a neutral cross-section film over- 
flowing with technological optimism.^^ The surface radicalism of this 
short-lived VolJcsverhand did not testify to a serious change of the 
psychological situation. 

In 1929, another progressive association cropped up: the Ger- 
man League for the Independent Film (DeuUche Liga fur undbhdnr 
gigen Film) which groposed to fight against the glorification of war 
and the encroachments of censorship. This League, a member of the 
Geneva International Film League, arranged showings of vanguard 
films and Russian films followed by discussions.^* The soul of the 
enterprise was Hans Richter, one of -Hie few truly incorruptible film 
artists of the left. In 1926, following the general tendency toward 
realism,'he began to include eyes, faces, penguins, among his abstract 

* BaJdzs, J>sr Cfeiat des Fihna, p. 212. Of. p. 297. 
Cf. p. 14.2. 

11 Quoted from Biyher, Film ProbUmt of Soviet Btusia, p. 125. Cf. program to 
Secaitohai Document?; MacPherson, "A Document of Shanghai," Close Up, Dec. 1928, 
pp. 66-69; Baldzs, Der Geist dee Films, p. 97. 

" Cf. Stenhouse, *T)ie Wunder des Films," Close Up, May 1929, pp. 89-91. 

13 Prospectus of the League, and information offered by Mr. Hans Richter. 


lines and planes. His Vormittagssptjk (Ghosts Before Break- 
fast, 1928), a charming short obviously influenced by Rene Clair 
and Pernand L^ger, showed inanimate objects in full revolt against 
the conventional use we make of them. Bowlers mocking their pos- 
sessors fly through the air, while a number of persons completely 
disappear behind a thin lamp post.^* 

At the time of this short, the fihn industry took a certain interest 
in vanguard productions: Ruttmann's Berlin had been a success, 
and the desire for reorientation was widespread. So Richter made a 
few reels for insertion in commercial films in need of embellishment. 
One of these reels — ^it served as prologue for an insignificant Ufa 
fihn — ^was a cross section of life during the inflation.^'' Even though 
Richter came from abstract painting like Ruttmann, he repudiated 
the latter's formal transitions in favor of cutting procedures de- 
signed to bring about a true understanding of what inflation really 
meant. His ideal was to compose "film essays" — sagacious pictorial 
comments on socially interesting topics. But as for his League, it 
neither exerted noticeable influence nor did it long survive the 

The existing vogue of social criticism may have stimulated the 
well-known film architect Erno Metzner to compete with Richter in 
the field of unconventional nonfiction films. Freie Fahrt (Free 
Trip, 1928), a propaganda fihn he made for the Social Democratic 
Party, was divided into two dissimilar parts. The first was a retro- 
spect picturing the predicament of the workers under the Kaiser 
in splendid scenes shaped after the Russian manner; the second, 
devoted to current party activities, was hardly more than a pictorial 
manifesto which inevitably reflected the failings and inhibitions of 
the Social Democrats.^® 

Subsequent to this official screen eulogy, which was shown only 
at closed Party meetings, Metzner produced, staged and shot the 
experimental short tJBERFALL (Accident, 1929), one of the most 
radical of German fihns despite its nonpolitical theme. It reports a 
minor street accident hardly worth a line in the local press. A petty 
bourgeois finds a coin on the street and stakes it in a dice game 

" Balsas, Der Geist de» FUms, p. 124. 
Richter*s Ixplattoit preluded Die Dame mr i>eb Maske (The Lady with the 
Mask, 1928) ; cf. **Die Dame mit der Maske," XJfa-Leih, Other fili^s by Richter are 
listed ki his Tinpublished manuscript, "Avantgarde, History and Dates of the Only 
Independent Artistic Fihn Movement, 1921-1981." 

i« "Freie Fahrt," CIobb Up, Feb. 1929, pp. 97-59. 



in an obscure tavern. He wins and leaves, followed by a thug who 
pursues him through a dark underpass and past ugly house f a9ades. 
A prostitute pulls the frightened bourgeois inside a house and takes 
him up to her room. The man believes himself safe, but in reality he 
has only fallen into another trap. While he is all set to enjoy an 
amorous hour, the girPs souteneur appears, robs the visitor of his 
wallet and throws him out of the house. No sooner does the unfor- 
tunate collect himself, than he is knocked down by the thug from 
the tavern. In the last scene, his head bandaged, he is seen lying in 
a hospital bed, haunted by a feverish dream in which a circling coin 
is the leitmotiv.-^"^ 

Unusual angles, distorting mirrors and other cinematic devices 
are used in rendering this sordid accident.^® The result is a pic- 
torial grotesque tending to color and deform objects and faces. This 
sabotage of the norm helps to mark Metzner's film as a protest 
against deep-rooted conventions [Illus. 40] . In Accident, all the 
characters and motifs of Tragedy of the Street and Asphalt 
reappear, but with basically changed meanings. Accident is a street 
film debunking those street films of the stabilized period. Unlike 
them, it neither glorifies the petty bourgeois as a rebel nor trans- 
forms the chaotic street into a haven for genuine love. The prostitute 
in this short remains a hard-boiled creature up to the very end, 
Ruttmann's Berlin also pictures street figures realistically; but 
while Ruttmann retreats into the colorless neutrality of Nettie Sack- 
Uchkeit, Metzner draws radical conclusions from his premises. 
Accident goes beyond Berlin or any other film of the period in 
that it rebuffs the police, that reassuring symbol of authority on the 
German screen. When in the final scene the bedridden petty bour- 
geois is requested by a detective to identify his assailant, he silently 
shuts his eyes and again falls prey to his hallucination of the circling 
coin. The image of the coin is the answer to the policeman's request. 
Accident, that is, shows chaos without accepting submission to 
authority as the way out of it. Authoritarian dispositions are 
here repudiated emphatically. The truly heretic character of this 
film is confirmed by the censor's harsh reaction to it. Even though 
Accident deals with events far less crude than those of any Pabst 

"MacPherson, **tJberfaU (Accident)," Class Up, April 1929, pp. 71-72. For 
Metzner's Achtuito, Liebe — ^Lebensoetahr (Whebe's Love Theee's Dasqier, 1929), 
see "Achtung, Liebe— Lebensgefahr," Close Up, Nov. 1929, pp. 441^2. 

i»Rotha, Film Till Nom^ pp. 276u.76. See also Hoffman, "Camera Problems," 
Close Up, July 1929, pp. 29-81. 



film, it was prohibited for its allegedly "brutaliring and demoralizing 
effect." 1^ 

The same dissenting spirit manifested itself in the field of fic- 
tional films proper. Among them was an outright product of Red 
ideology: itEYOLTE im Ebziehukgshatts (Revolt in the Re- 
formatory, January, 1930), a screen version of Peter Martin 
LampePs theatrical play of fchat title. It was an isolated attempt to 
make the screen as radical as the contemporary stage. The censor 
nipped this attempt in the bud, reducing to a tame drama of manners 
what was originally a violent attack against the sadistic regime of 
terror in German reformatories.^^ 

For the rest, leftist inclinations materialized in three films, all 
of which appeared in 1929 and showed themselves strongly influenced 
by the Soviet cinema.^^ These films had an interesting trait in com- 
mon : they were bathed in a dense atmosphere of sadness. One of them 
was Carl Junghans' So ist das Leben (Sfch Is Life), an extraor- 
dinary piece of work achieved in Berlin and Prague under enormous 
financial difficulties. It featured a washerwoman portrayed by Vera 
Baranovskaia, the star of Pudovkin's Mother. Junghans (a Czech 
of German extraction) revealed the miserable life and death of this 
plain woman in a succession of episodes noteworthy for their realism 
as well as their social awareness. The banquet where the child falls 
asleep and the cobbler brings out his old gramophone is no less 
memorable than the funeral repast in a cafe resounding with the 
noise of a mechanical pianoforte. Although Junghans occasionally 
borrowed from Eisenstein — ^the gesticulating statue of a saint recalls 
Eisenstein'6 moving stone Hon — ^his film was imbued with a mood of 
resignation not to be found in any Soviet production. Commenting 
on Sttch Is Lite, Carl Vincent speaks of its "touching and smiling 
tristesse" in the face of human pain and decay.^ 

i» Quoted from Metzner, "German Censor's Incomprehensible Ban," Clote Up, 
May 1929, pp. 14-15. 

*o Berstl, ed., IS5 Jdhre Berliner Theater, p. 99; Boehmer and Reitz, Film in Wirt- 
»chaft und Recht, p. 60 Petset, Verbotene FUmet pp. 124-25; Stenhouse, **A Con- 
temporary," Close Up, May 1980, p. 4.19. LampePs theatrical play Giftgas Uber Berlin 
was also made into a film (Giptgas, 1929). 

MacPherson, "Times Is Not What They Was P Close Up, Feb. 1929, p. 86, 
reports from Berlin: **The crowds during the first weeks of Storm over Asia were 
so dense that it was necessary to call out a special police control for those endeavor- 
ing to buy tickets.** For the vogue of Soviet iilms, sec also MacPherson, **As Is," 
Close Up, Aug. 1928, pp. S-11, 

Vincent, Mistoire de VArt CiiUmatographique, p. 208. See also Bard^che and 
BrasiUach, Bistorxf of Motion Pictures, pp. 261-62; Arnhefan, Film als Kunst, p. 122. 



Leo Mittkr's Jenseits der Steasse (Harbor Dreft), which 
included beautiful Hamburg exteriors, was one of the first films to 
touch on the problem of unemployment. Crowds of unemployed fill 
the picture as background to the action proper. Apart from this 
timely thematic innovation, Harbor Drift is a street film animated 
by much the same spirit as Accident. In it, a pearl necklace func- 
tions as did the coin in Metzner's short. A girl depraved by long 
unemployment watches an old beggar pick up the necklace on the 
street, and then lures the beggar's friend, a young unemployed 
worker, into stealing it for her. He fails and returns empty-handed ; 
whereupon the girl leaves him for a well-to-do elderly gentleman. 
Haunted by the image of the glittering necklace, the demoralized 
worker sneaks back to the abandoned boat which serves his one-time 
friend as a shelter. There he and the beggar come to blows, and 
since the beggar reads murder in his assailant's mind, he flees with 
the pearls — ^flees in such panic that he falls in the water and drow^is. 
Bubbles in the form of pearls appear and disappear on the surface 
of the water. At the end, we lose the worker in a crowd of unem- 
ployed. Contemporary German reviewers emphasized the Russian 
style of this film. Its variance with Tragedy op the Street is as 
obvious as its gloominess.^ 

Mutter Krausen's Fahrt ms GLiiCK (Mother Krausen's 
Journey to Happiness), the most successful film of this group, 
was made by the former cameraman Piel Jutzi after a script Hein- 
rich Zille wrote shortly before his death. Even though ZiUe's imagi- 
nation as usual centered round his beloved Berlin slums and their 
human flotsam, the fihn differed considerably from the Zille films 
of 1925 and 1926. In them, studio-built proletarian surroundings 
had been the scene of developments that fed the social illusions of 
lower middle-class people; in this new and last authentic Zille fihn 
no such illusions were allowed to invalidate the veracity of its North 
Berlin milieu, brought to life with the help of numerous documentary 

This is a milieu characterized by abominable housing conditions. 
To augment her income as a news vendor. Mother Krausen has let 
her one room to a dubious tenant, while she herself, along with her 
grown-up children Paul and Ema, is camping in the kitchen. The 
tenant on his part keeps a prostitute and her child in his room. Since 

^ Prospectus to the film and synopsis (Museum of Modern Art Library, dipping 



the young Krausens cannot avoid stumbling upon him, they are ex- 
posed to his evil influence. He seduces Erna and persuades Paul, 
who has wantonly dissipated his mother's earnings, to make up for 
this loss by participating in a burglary. Paul and the tenant break 
into a pawnshop, but the police interfere and come to fetch Paul 
at his mother's place. Her son led away as a criminal. Mother 
Krausen's whole universe goes to pieces. Taking the prostitute's child 
along — "What could life give to that child.'"' — she opens the gas 
pipe and departs on her journey to happiness. 

The atmosphere of self-pity surrounding Mother Krausen's 
escape into death recalls the suicide of the cafe-owner in Carl Mayer's 
New Year's Eve.^^ In fact, this last Zille film would be nothing 
but a modernized instinct drama did it not include a motif never 
before introduced on the German screen. The motif asserts itself in 
those parts of the film which elaborate upon the relation between 
Max and Erna. Max, a class-conscious young worker in love with 
Ema, furiously deserts her when he happens to find out about her 
Haison with the tenant. But, later on, his enlightened worker-friend 
succeeds in convincing him that aU has been the seducer's rather 
than Erna's fault, and that he. Max, is behaving in a typically 
bourgeois way. Max, converted to socialist sex morals, repentantly 
returns to the girl. His conversion tends to reveal Mother Krausen 
as the petty-bourgeois heroine of a pseudo-tragedy. Two other epi- 
sodes which also pierce her illusory world enhance the significance 
of this love affair. One of them satirizes the wedding party on the 
occasion of the tenant's marriage to the prostitute ; the other pictures 
a workers' demonstration after the impressive manner of Pudovkin. 
The problem is whether or not Max's concept of happiness out- 
balances that of Mother Krausen. From the emphasis placed on her 
suicide only one conclusion can be drawn: that the film is intended 
not so much to play up socialist claims and hopes as to acknowledge 
them with melancholy. To be sure. Mother Krausen's notions are rec- 
ognized as illusions; but even so they retain sufficient strength to 
overshadow the aspirations of the opposite camp.^* 

The sadness of these three films indicates that their underlying 
revolutionary inclinations are secondary attitudes rather than pri- 
mary impulses. AU three films seem to originate in a mind not too 
seriously concerned with onancipation. It is as if this mind were 

a* Cf. p. 99. 

a» Weiss, "Mutter Krausen's Fahrt ins Gliick,** Close Up, AprU 1980, pp. 818-^1; 
Vincent^ EUtovre de I' Art Oindmatogrcvphigue, p. 168; Arnhcim, Film aU Kumt, 
p. 168. 



ready at any moment to retreat from its vanguard position into 
noncommittal neutrality. 

Even during 1928-1929 — ^that short heyday of social criticism 
inunediately preceding the break-up of the stabilized period — ^films 
typical of the existing paralysis predominated. They sometimes 
amounted to patterns of abysmal confusion. Refuge, an Ufa film 
of 1928 already mentioned in other contexts,^^ included shots of pro- 
letarian quarters that seemed to be drawn from films by Pudovkin 
or Eisenstein, but although imbued with an revolutionary spirit, 
these shots in the Russian style served as background to an anti- 
revolutionary action that, of course, strictly contradicted their in- 
herent meaning. The merely decorative use made of them must be 
traced to complete aloofness from content. 

Not all contemporaries were insensitive to the persisting paralysis 
of the German screen. Potamkin spoke of "the German director's 
disregard of the subject-matter in films involving human experi- 
ence." At the end of 1928, surveying the current German screen 
output, I drew the following conclusions: *Tiack of essence is the 
main characteristic of the entire stabilized production. ... If the 
emptiness of our films, their shrinking from any human action, does 
not originate in a waning of substance, it can be explained only by 
obduracy [VerstocTctheW] — that strange obduracy which from the 
end of the inflation on has prevailed in Germany and determined 
many public activities. It is as if during the years in which, along 
with the streamlining of big business, a social regrouping has taken 
place, German life has become heavily paralyzed. One is almost per- 
mitted to speak of its disease. ... Is there a prescription for this? 
There is no prescription. Sincerity, the gift of observation, human- 
ity — such things cannot be taught." ^ 

Given certain conditions, a state of collective inner paralysis 
may occur anywhere. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, for 
instance, France had fallen into an apathy of that kind. Wherever 
the paralysis materializes, it gives rise to the same nondescript 
neutrality. But the meaning of this neutrality depends on the nature 
of the content paralyzed. It is not everywhere the same. 

26 Cf. p. 151. 

^'Quoted from Potamkin, **The Rise and Fall of the German Pilm," Cinema, 
April 1930, p. 67. See also Potamkin, "Kino and Lichtspiel," Gloae Up, Nov. 1929. 
p. 892. 

*»Kracauer, "Der hentige Film und sein Publikum," Frankfurter Zeitvnff, 
Nov. 80 and Dec 1, 1928. 


With the New York stock market crash in the fall of 1929, the 
stabilized period came to a definite close. All loans to Germany were 
abruptly suspended. The ensuing shrinkage of German industry 
resulted in a sharp increase of unemployment, already widespread. 
Towards the end of the pre-Hitler period, as the last three years 
of the Republic may be called, Berlin resounded with demonstrations, 
and there rose to the surface sinister individuals reminiscent of 
medieval figures. Weeks before the Christmas of 1932, peddlers and 
beggars formed a compact lane on the sidewalks of Tauentzien- 
strasse. They offered toys and cleaning rags for sale, played har- 
moniums and drew strident tones from saw blades. 

The economic crisis led to the collapse of the coalition between 
Social Democrats and bourgeois parties in the Reich. Briining, 
appointed chancellor in March 1930, headed a purely bourgeois 
cabinet, though in Prussia the Social Democrats continued to hold 
office. Maintaining itself through reactionary emergency decrees 
(Notverordnimgen) y the Briining regime was highly unpopular with 
the dejected masses, who resented it as the stronghold of capitalism 
and corruption. Hitler stole a march on the communists by captivat- 
ing millions of unemployed, and at the same time successfully courted 
big business. The Reichstag elections of September 1930 brought a 
veritable landslide in favor of the Nazis. S. A. uniforms became 
ubiquitous ; the noises of street assaults mingled with the dissonances 
of the musical saws. 

Yet in spite of general discontent with the "system," the major- 
ity refused to vote for Hitler. Many of those who may have been 
stirred by his promises nevertheless preferred to stick to the tradi- 
tional parties. In the Reichstag of 1930, the 150 Hitler and Hugen- 
berg deputies were confronted with 220 Marxists and 200 Briining 
followers. Shortly before his ultimate triiunph, Hitler suffered a 
serious setback, and it is doubtful whether he would have won power 
at all if the Social Democrats had not been struck with apathy.^ 

^ For the whole period, see Rosenbergs, Oetchichts d»r DeuUchen JRepublik, 
pp. 222-38$ SchwanESchild, World in Trance, esp. p. 819. 




This strong ideological opposition to Hitler tends to suggest 
that a handful of fanatics and gangsters succeeded in subjugating 
the majority of tlie German people. Such a conclusion falls short 
of the facts. Instead of proving immune to Nazi indoctrination, the 
bulk of the Germans adjusted themselves to totalitarian rule with a 
readiness that could not be merely the outcome of propaganda and 
terror. Whereas ItaHan fascism was a sort of theatrical display, 
Hitlerism assumed aspects of a reUgion. 

It is a puzzling spectacle: on the one hand, the Germans were 
reluctant to give Hitler the reins; on the other, they were quite 
wining to accept him. Such contradictory attitudes frequently 
spring from a conflict between the demands of reason and emotional 
urges. Since the Germans opposed Hitler on the political plane, 
their strange preparedness for the Nazi creed must have originated 
in psychological dispositions stronger than any ideological scruples. 
The films of the pre-Hitler period shed no small light on the psycho- 
logical situation. 

Before discussing them, some preliminary remarks are indis- 
pensable. First there was the transition from the silent to the talking 
films. In 1929, after haVing waged a fierce patent war, the two 
German companies in possession of all important sound-film patents 
fused into the Tobis-IQangfilm syndicate, which immediately began 
to fight competing American groups. A year later, representatives 
of the belligerents met in Paris and there reached an agreement 
fixing the distribution of international markets. During this transi- 
tion period, the trade suffered somewhat. Thousands of musicians 
were fired ; many small movie theaters disappeared because they were 
unable to finance conversion to sound. But the depression did not 
prevent the German sound-film industry from satisfying its export 
needs very effectively. It had the lead in Europe, and in other 
markets was surpassed only by Hollywood. In Germany itself, new 
Kontingent regulations, along with the centralization of all pertinent 
patents, stemmed the flood of American pictures. "The German 
sound film was left to its own development." ^ 

When the first fuU-fledged talkies appeared — among them At- 

a Quoted from Kras25na-Krausz, "A Season's Retrospect," Close Up, Sept. 1981, 
p. 22T. See also Olimsky, FUmvyirtschaft, pp. 63-66; Rotha, Film Till Now, p. 183; 
Boehmer and Reitz, Film in Wirtschaft und RecM, pp. 7-8; Jason, "Zahlen sehen uns 
an . . £6 Jakre Kinemato graph, pp. 67, 69-70; Kalbus, Deutsche Pilmkvnst, II, 
10^11, 98-99. 



LANTic, made by E. A. Dupont in England, Die Nacht gehort 
UNS, and Melodie des Herzens (Melody of the Heart), a 
Pommer production after the manner of his last silents — noted critics 
and film artists lived in fear that the introduction of sound might 
endanger the highly developed arts of camera movement and edit- 
ing.^ The cameraman Karl Hoffmann lamented in 1929, the year of 
the release of these films: "Poor camera! Alas! no more of your 
graceful movements, no more of your happy-go-lucky shifts? Are 
you again condemned to the same bondage and chains which you com- 
menced breaking ten years ago?" ^ Even though Hoffmann proved 
to be too pessimistic — after a while, the camera began again to 
ramble about — those early apprehensions were by no means un- 
founded. Film-makers aU over the world soon emphasized dialogue 
to such an extent that the visual track tended to degenerate into a 
mere accompaniment. To be sure, the new sphere of articulate reason- 
ing enriched the screen; but this gain hardly compensated for the 
reduced significance of the visuals. While verbal statements more 
often than not express intentions, camera shots are likely to pene- 
trate the unintentional. This is precisely what the mature silent 
films had done. They came upon levels below the dimension of con- 
sciousness, and since the spoken word had not yet assumed control, 
unconventional or even subversive images were allowed to slip in. 
But when dialogue took over, unfathomable imagery withered and 
intentional meanings prevailed. Need it be said that despite such 
changes the medium of the screen preserved its social significance? 
Talkies are as symptomatic of mass attitudes as silent films, although 
analysis of these attitudes is hampered rather than facilitated by the 
addition of spoken words. 

On the whole, the Germans indulged less than the Americans in 
pure dialogue films. Both Pabst and Lang developed ingenious de- 
vices to perpetuate the leading role of the visuals.^ This emphasis on 
pictorial values persisted throughout the Nazi era, as can best be 
exemplified by the striking contrast between German and American 
war newsreels: while the Nazis inserted long pictorial sequences 

^Kalbus, ibid., pp. 11-18, 88; synopsis of Melody of the Hzailt in IHustrierter 

* Hoffman, **Camera Problems,'* Close Up, Jvlj 1929, p. 81. 

5 The late Valerio Jahier, a distinguislied French film writer, remarks of the 
German cinema: "This cinema has preserved its characteristics since the invention of 
sound, as may be seen in the films of Pabst and Fritz Lang, whether produced in Ger- 
many or abroad.'' Cf. Jahier, **4t2 ans de Cinema,** Le B6U intelleotuel du Oin4ma, 
p. 71. 



without any verbal comment, the Americans degraded the shots ex- 
hibited to scattered illustrations of some conmientator's exuberant 

And finally, before examining the films themselves, the tighten- 
ing of the censorship under Briining must be mentioned. Pretending 
to strict neutrality, the Briining administration more often than not 
yielded to Nazi claims and reactionary pressure groups. Ins Dritte 
Reich (1931), an electoral campaign film of the left, was banned 
for stigmatizing German business interests, the German judiciary 
and the National Socialist Party. The notorious Nazi demonstrations 
against Axr. Quiet on the Western Front in December 1930 
induced the censors, who had originally admitted this film, to suspend 
its further screening under the rather tenuous pretext that it would 
endanger German prestige abroad. Thereupon leftist throngs dis- 
rupted the performances of the Fridericus film Das Flotbnkonzert 
VON Sanssouci ; but this time the censors remained unmoved.^ 

A multitude of German films gave no evidence of having been 
affected at all by the outbreak of the economic crisis. Along with the 
eternal mystery thrillers, Berlin local melodramas and military 
farces, several film types cultivated during the years of stabilization 
continued to flourish.'^ Among them were adaptations of French 
boulevard comedies as void of genuine life as their predecessors, and 
many Kidturfilme popularizing exotic countries and scientific mat- 
ters.® Following the example of such anemic documentaries as Bis- 

« Cf. Olimsky, FUmwirUchaft, p. 80; Boehmer and Reitz, Film in Wirtichaft und 
Becktj pp. 48, 62-54; Krasznar-Krausz, "A Letter on Censorship," Closs Up, Feb. 
1929, pp. 56-62; Altman, "La Censure contre le Cinema," Ld JRevue Cinema, 
Feb. 1, 1981, pp. 89-40. — Much pertinent material in Petzet, Verhotene FUme. 

' For mystery thrillers, see Kalbus, Deiitsche Filmkunstf II, 56^6, 86-86; Petzet, 
Verbotene FUmei pp. 14-16, 21-22; **GeheImdienst," Filmwelt, June 21, 1981; IlVus- 
trierter Film^Kurier (synopses of Pjjhb: in Chicago, 1931, and Schxjss im Moegek- 
OBAUES-, 1982).— Das Eksl (1981) with Max Adalbert, the brilliant Berlin comedian, 
may be mentioned as an instance of local melodrama; synopsis in Illustrierter Film- 
JE^ttrier.— Kalbus, ibid.^ pp. 91-92, lists a number of military farces. Particularly suc- 
cessfxil was Drei Tage Mitiblarrest (Threb Days ii;r the Gitardhotjse, 1980) ; cf. 
Kraszna-Krauszj "A Season's Retrospect," Close Up, Sept. 1981, p. 227, and Kalbus, 
ibid.t p. 92. 

8 Film comedies in French boulevard style were, for instance. Nib wiedee Lieie, 
1981 (Kalbus, ibid., p. 46, and Kracaucr, "Courrier de Berlin," La REruE du Cinj^ma, 
Oct. 1, 1981, pp. 64-55) ; KopruBER ins GrLtcK, 1931 (synopsis in Illustrierter Filfn- 
&rter); Der Frechdachs, 1982 (synopsis in Illustrierter FUmnKurier) ,-^Fot KtCl- 
turfiXme of the time, see Ufa, Kultur-Filme, 1929-1988; Film Society Programmes, 
April 12, 1981, Jan. 81 and May 8, 1982; Weiss, "Achtung Australien I Achtung Asien I" 
Close Up, June 1981, p. 149; Bryher, "Notes on some Films," ibid., June, 1982, pp. 
198-99; Weiss, **Das keimende Leben," ibid., Sept. 1982, pp. 207-8. 



MARCK and World War, Oswald's much-censored "1914" (1931) 
treated the causes of World War I with completely sham objec- 
tivity.^ The tradition of diverting resentments which might threaten 
the existing regime to politically neutral issues was also kept alive. 
Outlets were easily found in cases of inhuman judicial procedures. 
One product of that kind was the Ufa film Voruntersuchung 
(1931), in which Robert Siodmak cleverly dramatized the insuffi- 
ciency of circumstantial evidence.^^ 

The operetta profited more than any other escapist genre from 
the possibilities offered by sound. Now that music could be included, 
scores of musicals overflowing with songs cropped up. As early as 
1930, Ufa helped to start the vogue by releasing Dee Drei yon dbr 
Tankstelle (The Three of the Filling Station), a new type 
of operetta, which, it is true, failed to convince the New York pub- 
he, but was a hit in most European countries. Staged by the Viennese 
Wilhelm Thiele under the supervision of Pommer, this film was a 
playful daydream woven of the materials of everyday life [DIus. 41] . 
Three careless young friends suddenly gone bankrupt buy a filling 
station with the proceeds of their car ; there they devote themselves 
to flirting with a pretty girl who time and again turns up in her 
roadster — ^a dalliance which after some emotional confusion logically 
ends with one of the three rivals winning out. The refreshing idea 
of shifting the operetta paradise from its traditional locales to the 
open road was supported by the eccentric use made of music. Full 
of whims, the score constantly interfered with the half -rational plot, 
stirring characters and even objects to behave in a frolicsome man- 
ner. An unmotivated waltz invited workers clearing out the friends' 
unpaid-for furniture to transform themselves into dancers, and 
whenever the amorous roadster approached, its horn would emit a 
few bars which threaded the film with the stubbornness of a genuine 

Most operettas followed the old recipes ; from Zwei Herzen im 
Dreivterteltakt (Two Hearts in Waltz Time, 19B0) to Lud- 
wig Berger's charming Walzerkrieg (War of the Waltzes, 
1933) , they continued to sell the public standardized dreams of an 

» Cf. Kalbus, Deutsche Filmkunat, II, 79-80. 

lOBryher, "Berlin, AprU 1931," Close Up, June 1981, pp. 180-^1; Araheim, FUm 
als Kunst, pp. 288-89. The film Tater gestjcht (1981) was in a similar vein; cf. "Das 
Netz der Indizien," Filmwelt, March 22, 1981. 

" Vincent, Eistoire de VArt Cxn4matographiquef p. 164; Bardfeche and Brasillach, 
History of Motion Pictures, p. 846; Kalbus, Deutsche Filmkunst, II, 25-26. 



idyllic Vienna." This lucrative speculation m romantic nostalgia 
reached its climax with Eric Charrell's Ber Kongkess tanzt (Con- 
gress Daitces, 1931) 5 a Pommer production which set the flirtations 
of a sweet Viennese girl against the stately background of the Vien- 
nese Congress of 1814.^^ Spectacular mass displays alternated with 
intimate tete-^-tetes involving the Tsar in person, and Metfcernich's 
diplomatic intrigues added a pleasing touch of high politics. Elabo- 
rate rather than light-winged, this superoperetta with its agreeable 
melodies and intelligent structural twists amounted to a compen- 
dium of all imaginable operetta motifs. Some of them set a fashion. 
Particularly frequent were imitations of that sequence of Congress 
Dances in which Lilian Harvey on her drive through the country- 
side passes various kinds of people who all take up the song she sings 
from her carriage. 

The operetta was not the only film species which assigned a 
major role to music. No sooner did sound come true than the film- 
makers hurried to capitalize on the popularity of famous singers. 
And even though the results could not have been worse, the public 
surrendered wholeheartedly. Pilms canning Tauber*s glamorous 
voice were the vogue, and when Kiepura performed in a fishing boat 
with the panorama of Naples behind him, everybody was forcibly 
overwhelmed by such a blend of beauties.*^ 

Unlike the KuLtwrpme and operettas, cross-section fihns changed 
their character during the pre-Hitler years. They became vehicles 
of an over-all optimism aHen to their previous moods. This new 
optimism vigorously asserted itself in Ruttmann's early sound ex- 
periment. Die Melodie der Wixt (World Mblodt, 1930), a 
cross-section film he made from materials put at his disposal by the 
Hamburg-Amerika Line. Cinematically, the fihn was an interesting 
piece of pioneering, for its rhythmic **montage" included not only 
variegated visual impressions but aU kinds of sounds and musical 
strains. ThematicaUy, this "montage" encompassed nothing less than 
the sum total of human activities and achievements : architectural 

1* Por Two Hkabts isr "Wajltz Time, see Baldzs, Der Qeist dee Tilma, p. 178; for 
War op the Waltzes, Kalbus, Deutsche Filmkunst, II, 88. Other operetta films of the 
time were JjiEBESWAUcEit, 1980 (cf. Kalbus, ibid., p. 25, and Amheinij Fihn aU Rvnst, 
pp. 295-96) J Walzeepabadies, 1981 (synopsis in JUustrierter Film^Kurier) ; etc. See 
also Kalbuis, ihid,, p. 26 ff. 

13 Kalbus, ibid^ pp. 85-36. 

1* Kalbus, ibid., pp. 29-80, 82; Weiss, **The First Opera-Film," Cloie Up, Dec. 
1982, pp. 24^5. 



structures, typical modes of love, means of transportation, religious 
cults, the armies of the world, aspects of warfare, sports, entertain- 
ments and so on. According to Ruttmann's own comment on his film, 
the religious section "culminates in sumptuous mass danonstrations 
paying homage to diverse divinities. But the variety of personages 
worshiped by these devotees, who are addressing themselves now to 
Buddha, now to Jesus or Confucius, is a potential source of con- 
flict, and as such leads to the subsequent part, *The Army.' A martial 
bugle interrupts the sacred music, and soldiers of the whole world 
begin to file by," etc.^«^ 

Besides naively emphasizing the banality of thought in Worud 
Melody, this comment reveals the film's underlying principles. 
While Berlin, neutral as it was, still dwelt upon the harshness of 
mechanized human relations. World Melody manifests a neutral- 
ity that is completely indiscriminating and implies wholesale ac- 
ceptance of the universe. It is two different things to embrace the 
world in a spirit aware of the miracle of simple Leaves of Grass, 
and to embrace a world in which it does not matter whether "Jesus 
or Confucius" is adored, provided the crowds of the faithful are 
sumptuous. A French critic said of World Melody: "In my 
opinion, it would have been more valuable to deal only with one or 
another of the subjects presented." This remark points at the basic 
weakness of Ruttmann's cosmic hymn. His "world melody" is void 
of content, because his concern with the whole of the world leads him 
to disregard the specific content of each of the assembled melodies. 

Das Lied vom Lbben (Song of Liee, 1931), which was released 
only after embittered fights with the board of censors, followed a 
similar pattern. It was a typical cross-section film. Made by the 
Russian theater director Alexis Granovsky, who had moved from 
Moscow to Berlin, this Tobis production grew out of a daring docu- 
mentary of a Caesarian operation. The film consists of loosely con- 
nected episodes which, with the aid of Walter Mehring's pleasing 
songs, elaborate upon such generalities as love, marriage and birth. 
In the opening sequence, a young girl attends a dinner in honor of 

Quoted from Ruttmann, "La Symphonic du Monde," La Bevue Cinima, 
March 1, 1980, p. 44. Cf. Vincent, Histoire de VArt CinSmatographique, p. 169 j 
Jahier, "42 Ans de Cinema," Le Bdle intelUctuel du OmSma, p. 65. 

i« Quoted from Chevalley, "Mickey Virtuose— -La M61odie du Monde," Close Up, 
Jan. 1080, p. 72.— Film Society Programme, Dec. 14, 1930, expresses a more positive 



her engagement to an elderly rou^, who wants to introduce her to his 
friends. Veritable fireworks of cinematic devices transform the be- 
trothal party into a macabre gathering designed to symbolize the 
depraved generation of yesterday. In her dread of this company the 
girl runs away. She makes an attempt to drown herself in the sea, 
and then falls in love with her rescuer, a young marine engineer. 
The passage picturing her rekindled desire for life and the couple's 
honeymoon on a southern coast is an ambitious piece of film poetry. 
Now the Caesarian operation takes place. This remarkable episode 
emphasizes the contrast between the surgeons' white coats and their 
black rubber gloves — a contrast which effectively intimates that the 
girl hovers between life and death. A son is bom, and his arrival gives 
rise to scenes idealizing the mother-child relationship. At the very 
end, the grown-up boy is seen going away to the sea from which his 
father came and to which his mother tried to escape. 

The emphasis this film puts on images of the sea is symptomatic 
of an attitude which finds its verbal expression in the following 
scene: after having rescued the girl, the marine engineer takes her 
up in a crane, and as they float through the sky, "the man and the 
girl and a third person, who might be a doctor or a philosopher or 
a prophet, look down upon life while a voice sings of the glory of 
work and the doctor proclaims the gospel of vitality: the will to 
live, to produce, to progress" " [Illus. 42] . Symbolic scenes of this 
kind recur. An aftermath of popular postwar thought, the film does 
not differentiate between various forms of life, but extols life in 
every form. This accounts for the omnipresence of the sea : it is as 
grandiose and inarticulate as the film's imderlying conception of life. 
Song of Lite parallels World Melody in the vagueness of its 

^'Quoted from Hamilton, "Das Lied vom Leben," National Board of Review 
Magazine J Nov. 1931, p. 8. See also synopsis in Illustrierter Filny-Kwrxer; Bryher, 
"Berlin, April I9$l," Close Up, June 1931, p. 182; Arnheim, Film ale Kunst, pp. 91, 
264*-56, 288, 290, 298. For Granovsky's Die Kopper des Heben O. F. (The Litooage op 
Me. 0. F., 1981), see Kraszna-Krausz, "Four Films from Germany,** Close 17®, March, 
1982, p. 46. 

That this was the same vague enthusiasm that manifested itself in the abstract 
films of the time seems the more probable as Ruttmann, the creator of Woeld Mei-ody, 
went on to cultivate the field of objectless art His Week Ekd (1930) was nothing 
but a short sound track recording the manifold noises of a working day and a Sunday 
in the countryside; his Iisr dee Nacht (1981) translated Schumann's music of that 
title into terms of abstract visual configurations. Oskar Fischinger, a disciple of 
Ruttmann, specialized in similar illustrations of musical scores and in addition made 
advertising films from abstract patterns. It may also be mentioned that during those 
years Hans Richter mamtained his standing as a vanguard artist and Lotte Reiniger 



The turn of cross-section films from New Objectivity to hymnic 
optimism indicates an important change. During the years of stabi- 
lization the reluctant neutrality of these films had testified to inner 
discontent with the well-established "system" ; one is therefore safe 
in assuming that their overflowing cheerfulness during the years of 
crisis reflected a reverse attitude: the desire to believe that aU was 
well. It was as if, now that economic depression threatened to upset 
the existing order of things, people were possessed by the fear of a 
catastrophe and in consequence cherished all kinds of illusions about 
the survival of their world. 

Scores of films — ^mostly comedies interspersed with songs — fed 
such hopes. Animated by the very optimism which enlivened World 
Melody and Song of Life, they maintained neutrality in the in- 
terest of the status quo. Their surprising preponderance was an 
infaUible sign of widespread despair. 

Many of these products were calculated to put the unemployed 
at ease. Lupu Pick's Gassenhauer (1931), for instance, featured a 
band of jobless musicians who successfully defy misery by playing 
in somber backyards a street song which eventually becomes popular. 
The film with its familiar Zille figures recalled Ren6 Clair's Sous 
LES ToiTS DE Paris as well as Baldzs' Adventures of a Ten-Mark 
Note. It was, incidentally, Pick's first and last talkie; he died shortly 
after its completion.^^ Another film gaily invited the hard-pressed 
unemployed to place confidence in a mirage of resettlement schemes, 
tent colonies and the like,^^ The title of the film, Dee Drei von der 

went on issuing her familiar type of silhouette films. For Kuttmami films of the 
period, see Hamson, "Une Nouvelle CEuvre de Ruttmann," La Bevue du CinSma, 
July 1, 1980, pp. 70-71; Film Society Progranvmej Dec. % 1981; Film Index, p. 642a; 
Kracauer, "Courrier de Berlin," La Revue du OinSma, Aug. 1, 1931, pp. 64^-65. For 
Fischinger films, see "Weinberg, "Complete List of Films by Oskar Fischinger, type- 
written note, Museum of Modern Art Library, clipping files; Vincent, Histoire de 
VArt CinimMographique, p. 160; Film Society Programme, Jan. 10, 1982. Richter's 
first soimd film was a burlesque of a fair, Alles dbeht sick, Aixes beweot sich 
(EvEEYTHiNG Revolves, 1929). Weinberg, An Index to , , . Sans Bichter, pp. 9-15, 
takes stock of Richter's creative work. For Lotte Reiniger, see Bryhcr, **Notes on 
Some Films," Glase Up, Sept. 1982, p. 198; Film Society Profframmee, Oct. 19 and 
Dec. 14, 1980, March 8, 1981, Oct. 80, 1982. The Film Society, London, also showed, 
and briefly commented on, Moholy-Nagy's abstract film Schwabtz — ^Weiss— Geau, 
1982 (Film Society Programme, Nov. 20, 1982). Mr. Richter's unpublished manuscript 
"Avantgarde ..." is rich in pertinent information. 

i» Arnheim, Film als Kimst, pp. 208, 249; "Gassenhauer," Filmwelt, April 5, 1981. 
A sort of Zille film was also Mistee Schxtlze geoek At.t.k (1982). Kalbus, Deutsche 
Fihnkunst, II, 88-89, emphasizes the optimism underlying this film. 

30 Cf. Kracauer, " *Kuhle Wampe' verbotenP' Frankfurter Zeitung, April 5, 1982. 



Stempelstelle (1^552) , W6LS an outright plagiarism of Thiele's 
earlier Die Drei von deb Tan-kstelle. 

A favored expedient consisted in pretending that the under- 
privileged themselves were fully satisfied with their lot. In the Ufa 
comedy Ein blonder Traum (Blond Dream, 1932), poverty 
forces two window washers and a girl acting as a living projectile 
in a tent show to seek shelter in old railway cars on a meadow. Do 
they complain of their predicament? The song expressing the feel- 
ings of these enviable creatures includes the following words : "We 
are paying rent no longer, we have made our home in the heart of 
nature, and even if our nest were smaller, it really would not 

Since most people prefer bigger nests, a series of films devoted 
themselves to success stories. An interesting contribution was made 
by Ufa with Mensch ohne Namen (The Man Without a 
Name, 1932).-- In it, Werner Krauss portrays a German indus- 
trialist who contracts amnesia while a prisoner of war in Russia. 
Years after the war, he regains his memory, returns to Berlin, and 
there learns that the authorities have proclaimed him dead. The 
scene in which a clerk climbs a giant ladder between rows of file cases 
and from its top shouts down to him that he no longer exists im- 
pressively illustrates the nightmarish workings of bureaucracy 
[Illus. 43]. To complete the ex-industrialist's misfortune, both his 
wife and his friend fail to recognize him. His downfall unintention- 
ally mirrors that of the middle class during these years of crisis. 
The film now develops in a direction strangely reminiscent of the 
Zille film Slums op Berlin.^^ The man, who of course plans to 
commit the customary suicide, is taken care of by an obscure sales 
agent and a jobless stenographer, and with their help re-embarks 
upon a promising career. He assumes a new name after having been 
refused the right to his old one, successfully promotes an invention 
of his, and in his upward flight differs from the engineer in Slums 
OP Berlin only in that he marries the poor stenographer instead 
of an upper middle-class girl. Times were bad for stenographers, 
and something had to be done in their favor. 

Times were indeed so bad that even qualified specialists could 
not count on re-employment once they had been dismissed. Most 

Synopsis vith song texts in Illustrierter FilmrKurier, Kolbus, Deutsche Fihn- 
kwnst, II, 46. 

Synopsis 5n llhutrierter Film-Kiirier. Kalbus, ibitUf p. 66. 
23Cf.p. 148 f. 



success films therefore emphasized luck rather than capability as the 
true source of briUiant careers. Characteristically, such film titles 
as Das Geld liegt atjf der Strasse (Money Lies on the Street) , 
MoRGEN geht's TINS GUT (TOMORROW We'll Be Fine), and 


were then quite common. And no matter how improbable the films 
themselves proved to be, the audience readily swallowed them pro- 
vided that they lived up to their titles. Luck as the vehicle of success : 
the Germans must have been on the verge of hopelessness to accept 
a notion so utterly alien to their traditions. 

Lesser employees and lower middle-class people were the declared 
favorites of Fortuna in all these films. Representative of the whole 
trend, which reached its artistic climax with Erich Engel's witty 
comedies, was Die Privatsekretarin (The Private Secretary, 
1931), an easy-going film whose tremendous popularity established 
Wilhelm Thiele's mastership of attractive concoctions. A sprightly 
small-town girl (Renate Miiller) manages to get a job in a Berlin 
bank, and while working overtime one evening is approached by her 
big boss, whom she imagines to be just another office worker. They 
go out for the evening together, and the predictable result is her 
promotion to the position of banker's wife.^* 

In the Ufa film Die Grapin von Monte Christo (Cottntess of 
Monte Cristo, 1932), this sort of daydreaming developed into a 
veritable fairy tale drawn from everyday life. Brigitte Helm as a 
film extra is cast in the role of a lady traveling in a fashionable car. 
Night-shooting begins ; but instead of pulling up by the entrance of 
the studio-built hotel front, Helm and her girl friend drive ahead 
until they land in a real de luxe hotel, where the pseudo-lady is 
received as a guest of distinction because of the name '^Countess of 
Monte Cristo*' on her empty trunks. An amusing intrigue involv- 
ing an unpleasant hotel thief and a noble gentleman crook enables 
her for a short time to keep up appearances and lead the life she 
has craved — ^a life considerably enriched by the gentleman crook's 
infatuation with her. One fine day, the police enter the scene; they 
arrest the loving crook and would doubtless have put an end to the 
false countess' shenanigans if it were not for Ufa's desire to kindle 
hopes in the hearts of poor film extras. Helm's escapade becomes a 
front-page story, and with their flair for publicity the studio execu- 

^* Kalbus, Deutsche FUirihwnat, II, 64. For a similar film, Dollt macht 
KAimiEaE (Dolly's Cabees, 1980), see Weiss, **A Starring Vehicle," Close Up, Nov. 
1980, pp. 884-85. 



tives not only refrain from persecuting iter, but have her sign an 
advantageous contract; proving conclusively what all these screen 
opiates tended to demonstrate: that everyday life itself is a fairy 

But how to endear oneself to a benevolent fairy? Here Hans 
Albers came in. This film actor, who once had portrayed adulterers 
and well-dressed rogues, suddenly turned into Germany's No. 1 
screen favorite, the incarnation of Prince Charming. Pommer starred 
him in four Ufa films, and except for the last one, F. P. 1 antwobtet 
NIGHT (F. P. 1 Does Not Answer, 1932), in which sentimental 
resignation prevailed, Albers invariably was a glorious victor — 
whether he played the crazy captain of an operetta cruiser in Bom- 
ben AUJ" Monte Carlo (Month CAHiiO Madness, 1931), an 
amorous clown in Quick (1932), or a simple telegraphist in Der 
SiEGEB (The Victor, 1932).^** He qmvered with radiant vitality, 
was extremely aggressive and like a bora buccaneer seized any op- 
portunity within his reach. But whatever his undertaking, whether 
attacking enemies or courting girls, it all was done in an unpre- 
meditated way — as if he were driven by changing moods and circum- 
stances rather than by the steadfast will to realize a project. In 
fact, he was the reverse of a schemer. And since he did not even care 
too much about luck, Fortuna on her part pursued him with the 
persistence of a loving woman and lent him a helping hand whenever 
he stumbled into one of the many pitfalls prepared for him. Of 
course, he took the hand she offered and then rushed on, as heedless 
as ever. Each Albers film filled the houses in proletarian quarters 
as well as on Kurfiirstendamm. This human dynamo with the heart 
of gold embodied on the screen what everyone wished to be in life 
[Illus. 44], 

«» For fUms featuring Albers, see Kalbus, Deutsche Filmhvmt, II, 88, 68, 69. Cf. 
synopses in Jlhtstriertar FUm-Kurier; program to Moktb Cabuo Madkess. 


Despite all efforts to maintain neutrality for the sake of the status 
quo, the fa9ade of New Objectivity began to crumble after 1930. 
This is corroborated by the disappearance of those street and youth 
jfilms which during the stabilized period had served the paralyzed 
authoritarian dispositions as a dreamlike outlet. Such screen dreams 
were no longer needed, for now that the paralysis had subsided, 
all kinds of leanings, authoritarian or otherwise, were at liberty to 
manifest themselves. As in the postwar period, the German screen 
became a battleground of conflicting inner tendencies. 

In 1930, Potamkin wrote: "There are indications in Germany 
that the serious-minded will force the German cinema out of its 
lethargy and studio-impasse to a treatment of important subject- 
matter. Germany is approaching a political crisis, and with it an 
intellectual and aesthetic crisis. . . ^ He who undergoes a crisis 
is bound to weigh all pros and cons before determining his line of 
conduct. This was precisely what the Germans did — judging by two 
important films, The Blite AngeI/ and M, which can be considered 
statements on the psychological situation of the time. Both pictures 
penetrated depths of the collective soul which in such films as Song 
or Life and Private Secbetabx were completely ignored. It is true 
that during the years of stabilization Pabst and Ruttmann, too, had 
attempted to uncover subterranean layers of contemporary reality. 
But while they had eluded the significance of their films by means 
of melodrama or sustained detachment. The Blue Angel as well 
as M breathed a strong sense of responsibility for all that was ex- 
posed in them. They were products of a mind freed from that 
"lethargy" to which Potamkin alludes. 

Der blatje Engel (The Blue Angel, 1930) was an Ufa film 
based upon Heinrich Mann's prewar novel Frofessor UnratTi, which 
along with other novels by the same author stigmatized the peculiar 
vices of German bourgeois society. Any nation depends upon critical 

^ Potamkin^ "The Rise and Pall of the Grerman Pam," Cinema, April 1980, p. 59. 




introspection as a means of self-preservation, and it is the lasting 
merit of Heinrich Mann that he tried to develop a German variety 
of thai; social-minded literature which flourished in England and 
France for many decades- Had a strange acrimony not narrowed his 
views, he might have exerted more influence than he actually 

Emil Jannings enacts the film's main character, a bearded high- 
school professor in a small seaport town. This middle-aged bachelor 
violently antagonizes his pupils, who are quick to sense the many 
inhibitions behind his petty-tyrannical manner [lUus, 45]. When 
he learns that the boys frequent the dressing room of Lola Lola, 
star of a little company of artists performing in the tavern The 
Blue Angel, he decides to settle accounts with that vicious siren. 
Driven by moral indignation and ill-concealed sex jealousy, the fool- 
ish professor ventures into her den ; but instead of putting an end 
to the juvenile excesses, he himself succumbs to the charms of Lola 
Lola, alias Marlene Dietrich — ^so much so that he shares her bed- 
room and then proposes to her. The consequence is that he has to 
leave the school. What does it matter? During his wedding party, 
having fallen into a state of euphoria, he succeeds in impressing the 
artists with a wonderful imitation of cockcrowing. But this high 
point of his career as a free man is also the beginning of his down- 
fall. While the troop travels from town to town, Lola Lola not only 
makes him drudge for her, but agrees to the manager's suggestion 
that her husband produce his funny cockcrowing on the stage. Has 
humiliation reaches its climax when the artists return to The Blue 
Angel in the hope of stirring up a sensation with the ex-professor. 
Their hope proves justified: the whole town rushes in, eager to 
listen to their fellow-citizen's cock-a-doodle-doo. Asked to perform, 
he launches into a terrific crowing, walks off the stage and, inces- 
santly roaring, begins to strangle Lola Lola. The personnel over- 
power the raging madman and eventually leave him to himself. Then 
he seems to awaken from the nightmare of his recent existence. Like 
a mortally wounded animal seeking shelter in its lair, he sneaks back 
to the old school, enters his classroom, and there passes away. 

Pommer, bent on promoting artistic German talkies, engaged 
Joseph von Sternberg to direct the film. A native of Austria, this 
brilliant Holljnvood director had proved in Underworld and The 
Last Command that he was master of the art of rendering milieus 
so that they amplified imperceptible emotions. In The Blue Angel, 



faraway foghorns sound from the harhor as Jannings walks through 
nocturnal streets to the tavern. When, on the point of leaving school 
for good, he sits, lonely, at his desk, a traveling shot encompasses 
the empty classroom with the tender slowness of a last embrace. This 
shot re-emerges at the fihn's very end, and now serves as an obituary 
impressively summarizing the story of the dead man whose head has 
sunk on the desk. The narrow interiors of The Blue Angel are 
endowed with a power of expression rarely even aspired to during 
the stabilized period. There is a promiscuous mingling of architectu- 
ral fragments, characters and nondescript objects. Lola Lola sings 
her famous song on a miniature stage so overstuffed with props that 
she herself seems part of the decor. Jannings fights his way to the 
dressing room through a maze of fishing nets, and somewhat later 
appears in the company of a wooden caryatid, which supports the 
tiny gallery from which he glares at his idol. As in Carl Mayer's 
postwar fihns, the persistent interference of mute objects reveals 
the whole miHeu as a scene of loosened instincts. Perfect conductors, 
these objects transmit Jannings' delayed passion as well as the waves 
of sexual excitement emanating from Lola Lola. 

The film's international success — soon after its release, a Paris 
night-club opened under the name "The Blue Angel" — can be traced 
to two major reasons, the first of which was decidedly Marlene 
Dietrich. Her Lola Lola w*as a new incarnation of sex. This petty 
bourgeois Berlin tart, with her provocative legs and easy man- 
ners, showed an impassivity which incited one to grope for the 
secret behind her callous egoism and cool insolence [lUus. 46] . That 
such a secret existed was also intimated by her veiled voice which, 
when she sang about her interest in love-making and nothing else, 
vibrated with nostalgic reminiscences and smoldering hopes. Of 
course, the impassivity never subsided, and perhaps there was no 
secret at all. The other reason for the film's success was its outright 
sadism. The masses are irresistibly attracted by the spectacle of tor- 
ture and humiliation, and Sternberg deepened this sadistic tendency 
by making Lola Lola destroy not only J annings himself but his en- 
tire environment. A running motif in the film is the old church-clock 
which chimes a popular German tune devoted to the praise of loy- 
alty and honesty (tlh' immer Trm vmd RedlichJeeit . . .) — a tune 
expressive of Jannings' inherited beliefs. In the concluding passage, 
immediately after Lola Lola's song has faded away, this tune is 
heard for the last time as the camera shows the dead Jannings. Lola 



Lola lias killed him, and in addition her song has defeated the 

Besides being a sex story or a study in sadism, Sternberg's film 
vigorously resumes postwar traditions, marking the definite end of 
the paralysis. The Blue Angel can be considered a variation on 
Karl Grune's The Street. Like the philistine from the plush parlor, 
Jannings' professor is representative of the middle class; like the 
philistine, he rebels against the conventions by exchanging school 
for The Blue Angel, counterpart of the street; and exactly like 
the philistine, this would-be rebel again submits — not, it is true, to 
the old middle-class standards, but to powers far worse than those 
from which he escaped. It is significant that he increasingly appears 
to be the victim of the manager rather than Lola Lola's personal 
slave. Love has gone, indiscriminate surrender remains. The philis- 
tine in The Street, the caf downer in New Year's Eve, the hotel 
porter in The Last Laugh and the professor in Sternberg's fihn 
all seem shaped after one and the same model. This archetypal char- 
acter, instead of becoming adult, engages in a process of retrogres- 
sion effected with ostentatious self-pity. The Blue Angel poses 
anew the problem of German immaturity and moreover elaborates 
its consequences as manifested in the conduct of the boys and artists, 
who like the professor are middle-class offspring. Their sadistic 
cruelty results from the very immaturity which forces their victim 
into submission. It is as if the fihn implied a warning, for these 
screen figures anticipate what will happen in real life a few years 
later. The boys are born Hitler youths, and the cockcrowing device 
is a modest contribution to a group of similar, if more ingenious, 
contrivances much used in Nazi concentration camps. 

Two characters stand off from these events: the clown of the 
artists' company, a mute figure constantly observing his temporary 
colleague, and the school beadle who is present at the professor's 
death and somehow recalls the night-watchman in The Last Laugh. 
He does not talk either. These two witness, but do not participate. 
Whatever they may feel, they refrain from interference. Their silent 
resignation foreshadows the passivity of many people under totali- 
tarian rule. 

Fritz Lang told me that in 1930, before M went into production, 

a short notice appeared in the press, announcing the tentative title 

«Cf. Kalbus, Deutsche Filmhunet^ 11, 16 i Vincent, Histoire de VArt OinSmcao- 
grafhique, p. 168. 



of his new film, Morder imter was {Murderer Among Us). Soon 
he received numerous threatening letters and, still worse, was bluntly 
refused permission to use the Staaken studio for his film. "But why 
this incomprehensible conspiracy against a fihn about the Diisseldorf 
child-murderer Kiirten?'' he asked the studio manager in despair. 
^^Ach, I see," the manager said. He beamed with relief and imme- 
diately surrendered the keys of Staaken. Lang, too, understood; 
while arguing with the man, he had seized his lapel and caught a 
glimpse of the Nazi insignia on its reverse. "Murderer among us'' : 
the Party feared to be compromised. On that day, Lang added, he 
came of age politically. 

M opens with the case of Elsie, a schoolgirl who disappears and 
after a while is found slain in the woods. Since her murder is pre- 
ceded and followed by similar crimes, the city lives through a verita- 
ble nightmare. The police work feverishly to track down the child- 
murderer, but succeed only in disturbing the underworld. The city's 
leading criminals therefore decide to ferret out the monster them- 
selves. For once, their interests coincide with those of the law. Here 
Thea von Harbou borrows a motif from Brecht's Dreigroscherir 
oper ^ : the gang of criminals enlists the help of a beggars' union, con- 
verting its membership into a network of unobtrusive scouts. Even 
though the police meanwhile identify the murderer as a former inmate 
of a lunatic asylum, the criminals with the aid of a blind beggar steal 
a march on the detectives. At night, they break into the office building 
in which the fugitive has taken refuge, pull him out of a lumber 
room beneath the roof, and then drag him to a deserted factory, 
where they improvise a ^Tcangaroo court," which eventually pro- 
nounces his death sentence. The police appear in time to hand him 
over to the authorities. 

Released in 1931, this Nero production found enthusiastic re- 
sponse everywhere. It was not only Lang's first talkie, but his first 
important film after the pretentious duds he had made during the 
stabilized period. M again reaches the level of his earlier films, 
Destiny and Nibeltjkgen, and moreover surpasses than in virtu- 
osity. To increase the film's documentary value, pictorial reports on 
current police procedures are inserted in such a skillful way that 
they appear to be part of the action. Ingenious cutting interweaves 
the milieus of the police and the underworld: while the gang leaders 
discuss their plans, police experts, too, sit in conference, and these 

8 Cf. p. 286. 



two meetings are paralleled by constant shifts of scene which hinge 
on subtle association. The comic touch inherent in the cooperation 
between the lawless and the law materializes on various occasions. 
Witnesses refuse to agree upon the simplest facts ; innocent citizens 
indict each other fiercely. Set against these gay interludes, the epi- 
sodes concentrating upon the murders seem even more horrifying. 

Lang's imaginative use of sound to intensify dread and terror 
is unparalleled in the history of the talkies. Elsie's mother, after 
having waited for hours, steps out of her flat and desperately shouts 
the child's name. While her "Elsie!" sounds, the following pictures 
pass across the screen: the empty stairwell [Illus. 47] ; the empty 
attic ; Elsie's unused plate on the kitchen table ; a remote patch of 
grass with her ball lying on it; a balloon catching in telegraph wires 
— ^the very balloon which the murderer had bought from the blind 
beggar to win her confidence. Like a pedal point, the cry "Elsie!" 
underlies these otherwise unconnected shots, fusing them into a sin- 
ister narrative. Whenever the murderer is possessed by the lust for 
killing, he whistles a few bars of a melody by Grieg. His whistling 
threads the film, an ominous foreboding of his appearance. A little 
girl is seen walking along : as she stops in front of a shop window, 
the weird Grieg melody approaches her, and suddenly the bright 
afternoon street seems clouded by threatening shadows. Later on, the 
whistling reaches the ears of the blind beggar for a second time and 
thus brings about the murderer's own doom. Another fatal sound is 
produced by his vain effort to remove, with his jackknife, the lock 
of the door which has slammed behind him after his flight into the 
lumber room. When the criminals pass along the top floor of the 
office building, this jarring noise reminiscent of the prolonged gnaw- 
ing of a rat, betrays his presence.^ 

The film's true center is the murderer himself. Peter Lorre por- 
trays him incomparably as a somewhat infantile petty bourgeois who 
cats apples on the street and could not possibly be suspected of 
killing a fly. His landlady, when questioned by the police, describes 
this tenant of hers as a quiet and proper person. He is fat and looks 
effeminate rather than resolute. A brilliant pictorial device serves 
to characterize his morbid propensities. On three different occasions, 
scores of inanimate objects, much more obtrusive than in The Blue 
Angel, surround the murderer ; they seem on the point of engulfing 

* Arnheim, Film aU Kunst, pp. 280, 262, 800, comments on several devices in M. 
Cf. Hamilton, "M," National Board of Review Magazine, March 1988, pp. Su-ll. 



him. Standing before a cutlery shop, he is photographed in such a 
way that his face appears within a rhomboid reflection of sparkling 
knives [Illus. 48], Sitting on a cafe terrace behind an ivy-covered 
trellis, with only his cheeks gleaming through the foliage, he sug- 
gests a beast of prey lurking in the jungle. Finally, trapped in the 
lumber room, he is hardly distinguishable from the tangled debris 
in which he tries to evade his captors. Since in many German films 
the predominance of mute objects symbolizes the ascendancy of 
irrational powers, these three shots can be assumed to define the 
murderer as a prisoner of uncontrollable instincts. Evil urges over- 
whelm him in exactly the same manner in which multiple objects 
close in on his screen image. 

This is corroborated by his own testimony before the "kangaroo 
court," an episode opening with a couple of shots which render 
perfectly the shock he experiences at that moment. Three criminals, 
insensitive to the murderer's frantic protests, push, drag and kick 
him forward- He lands on the floor. As he begins to look about, tlie 
close-up of his face — a face distorted with rage and fear — abruptly 
gives way to a long shot surveying the group of criminals, beggars 
and street women in front of him [lUus. 49]. The impression of 
shock results from the terrifying contrast between the wretched 
creature on the floor and this immovable group which, arranged in 
Lang's best monumental style, watches him in stony silence. It is as 
if the murderer has unexpectedly collided with a human wall. Then, 
in an attempt to justify himself, he accounts for his crimes in this 
way : I am always forced to move along the streets, and always some- 
one is behind me. It is I. I sometimes feel I am myself behind me, 
and yet I cannot escape. • . . I want to run away — ^I must run 
away. The specters are always pursuing me — ^unless I do it. And 
afterwards, standing before a poster, I read what I have done. Have 
I done this? But I don't know anything about it. I loathe it — ^I must 
— ^loathe it — ^must — ^I can no longer . . . 

Along with the implications of the pictorial texture, this confes- 
sion makes it clear that the murderer belongs to an old family of 
German screen characters. He resembles Baldwin in The Student 
OP Prague, who also succumbs to the spell of his devilish other self ; 
and he is a direct offspring of the somnambulist Cesare. Like Cesare, 
he lives under the compulsion to kill. But while the somnambulist 
unconsciously surrenders to Dr. Caligari's superior will power, the 
child-murderer submits to his own pathological impulses and in addi- 



tion is fully aware of this enforced submission. The way he acknowl- 
edges it reveals his affinity with all those characters whose ancestor 
is the philistine in The Street. The murderer is the link be- 
tween two screen families; in him, the tendencies embodied by the 
philistine and the somnambulist finally fuse with each other. He is 
not simply a fortuitous compound of the habitual killer and the sub- 
missive petty bourgeois ; according to his confession, this modernized 
CJesare is a killer because of his submission to the imaginary Caligari 
within him. His physical appearance sustains the impression of his 
complete immaturity — an immaturity which also accounts for the 
rampant growth of his murderous instincts. 

In its exploration of this character, who is not so much a retro- 
gressive rebel as a product of retrogression, M confirms the moral 
of The Blite Angel: that in the wake of retrogression terrible 
outbursts of sadism are inevitable. Both fihns bear upon the psycho- 
logical situation of those crucial years and both anticipate what was 
to happen on a large scale unless people could free themselves from 
the specters pursuing them. The pattern had not yet become set. 
In the street scenes of M, such familiar symbols as the rotating spiral 
in an optician's shop and the policeman guiding a child across the 
street are resuscitated.* The combination of these motifs with that of 
a puppet incessantly hopping up and down reveals the film's waver- 
ing between the notions of anarchy and authority. 

5 Cf. comment on the imagery of Berli3S-, p. 186. 


A BATTLEGROUND of Conflicting inner tendencies, the German screen 
of the pre-Hitler period was dominated by two major groups of 
fihns. One of them testified to the existence of antiauthoritarian dis- 
positions. It included fihns concerned with humanization and peace- 
ful progress ; they sometimes went so far as to manifest outspoken 
leftist leanings. 

Among the films of this first group two were conspicuous for 
implying that the retrogressive processes emphasized in The Bltte 
Angel and M might well be averted under the status quo, Berlin- 
AxEXANDEBPLATz (1931), made by Piel Jutzi after Alfred Dob- 
lin's famous novel of that title, tacitly opposed the pessimistic out- 
look of Sternberg and Lang. It was an underworld drama with many 
docimientary shots in the manner of Ruttmann's Bebles-, which 
occasionally developed into a pictorial thicket arresting the action. 
The fihn's main character is Franz Biberkopf, a true Zille figure 
splendidly enacted by Heinrich George. After serving a prison term 
for manslaughter, he turns to peddling on Alexanderplatz and is 
perfectly happy with his girl until Reinhold, the boss of a gang of 
criminals, appears. This anemic-looking rogue talks the somewhat 
slow-witted Biberkopf into joining the gang. But soon the new 
member's innate honesty interferes so seriously with the activities 
of the criminals that they throw him out of a car going at fuU 
speed. There he lies. Months later, his right arm «unputated, he 
returns to Reinhold — ^not to take revenge, but to offer full co- 
operation. Biberkopf has become an embittered cripple who despairs 
of making an honest living. His share from well-planned burglaries 
allows him to enjoy a comfortable existence in the company of his 
new girl, Mieze. But his luck does not last long. Reinhold, intaat on 
possessing Mieze, lures her into the woods, and when she does not 
yield to his desire, he murders her in a fit of cold rage. A sample of 
genuine fihn-maJdng is the scene in which singing boy-scouts pass 
along the highway immediately before the murderer re-eoaierges from 



the bushes and speeds away in his car. The poh'ce capture Reinhold 
in time to prevent Biberkopf from killing him; whereupon Biber- 
kopf, left to himself, again takes to honesty and peddling.^ At the 
film's very end, he is seen on Alexanderplatz, hawking a sort of 
tumbler puppet with the words : This puppet always bobs up again. 
Why does it always bob up again? Because it has metal in the right 

The moral is obvious: he whose heart is in the right place sur- 
mounts any crisis without being corrupted. This is exemplified by 
Biberkopf's own development. When profound resentment prompts 
him to make common cause with Reinhold, he seems on the point of 
following the pattern set by the child-murderer and his predecessors. 
But unlike them, he succeeds in exorcising the evil spirits. Biberkopf 
himself is a tumbler figure. Vaguely reminiscent of the count in 
Warning Shadows, he tends to prove that during the pre-Hitler 
period the image of submission was by no means sacrosanct. 

The problem is whether or not his metamorphosis goes far enough 
to turn the audience against this image. The first time Biberkopf 
peddles on Alexanderplatz, he asks several S.A. men in the crowd 
around him to come nearer — asks them as kindly as if they were 
nondescript bystanders. This incident, unimportant in itself, illus- 
trates strikingly the narrow scope of his tumbler attitude. To be 
sure, his heart is in the right place; but where other people have 
theirs does not concern him. Let social conditions be what they will, 
if only he can carry on, a decent peddler. Biberkopf has turned adult 
in a limited personal sense; his main characteristic is a blend of 
private honesty and political indifference. It would be inconceivable 
for any such Biberkopf to stem the mounting flood of retrogression, 
even if he has overcome retrogression within himself. 

Although Biberkopf's change from a potential child-murderer 
into a half-mature character proves of little consequence, it dis- 
counts the leader principle proclaimed by the Nazis. To some extent, 
Berlin-Axexanderplatz fostered belief in a positive evolution 
of the existing republican regime. Another faint suggestion of demo- 
cratic mentality was Gerhart Lamprecht's charming and very suc- 
cessful chad-film Emel tjnd die Detektive (1931), fashioned after 
a popular novel by Erich Kastner; at least, this Ufa production in- 

*A kindred film was SmjaauB der LEiDEBrscHAPT (1982?) with Jannings as a 
criminal betrayed by his girl and his chums. Cf. **Starme der Leidenschaft,** Filmv>eU, 
Dec 27, 1981. 



eluded nothing that would have justified the sinister forebodings in 
M and The Blue Angel. Emil is a small-town boy whose mother 
sends him to Berlin on an important mission : he is to deliver money 
to his grandmother. On the train, a thief robs the boy of his precious 
envelope. No sooner do they arrive than Emil starts pursuing the 
thief — ^a pursuit which, owing to the cooperation of a gang of 
BerKn urchins, develops into a veritable children's crusade. Pas- 
sionate detectives, the children establish headquarters in a vacant lot 
opposite the criminal's hotel and, with a truly German gift for organ- 
ization, even think of assigning one of their number to take charge 
of telephone messages. Their activities assume proportions which 
cause the police to intervene, and since the thief turns out to be a 
long-sought bank robber, the youths receive the 1000-mark reward 
offered for his capture. When Emil returns home in the company of 
his new friends, the whole town assembles on the airfield to hail the 
conquering heroes. 

The literary figure of the detective is closely related to demo- 
cratic institutions.^ Through its praise of juvenile sleuthing Emil 
UND DIE Detektive therefore suggests a certain democratization of 
German everyday life. This inference is bolstered by the independent 
and self -disciplined conduct of the boys as well as by the use made of 
candid-camera work. Neat and unpretentious documentary shots of 
Berlin street scenes portray the German capital as a city in which 
civil liberties flourish. The bright atmosphere pervading these pas- 
sages contrasts with the darkness which invariably surrounds Fritz 
Rasp as the thief. He wears a black coat and has all the traits of the 
bogey in nursery tales. When he falls asleep in his hotel room, Emil 
in the uniform of a bellboy emerges from under the bed and looks 
around for the stolen money — ^a courageous youngster engulfed by 
menacing shadows. Light once for aR defeats darkness in that mag- 
nificent sequence in which the thief is eventually cornered. Under a 
radiant morning sun, which seems to scoff at his eerie blackness, this 
Pied Piper in reverse tries in vain to escape the ever-increasing crowd 
of children who pursue and besiege him [lUus. 50] . 

No doubt the trixmiph of clarity helps to express what can be 
considered the film's democratic spirit. Yet this spirit evades defini- 
tion. Instead of crystallizing in some tangible conviction, it remains 
a mood, just strong enough to neutralize the patriarchal tendencies 
which try to assert themselves in sundry scenes of the film. Since this 

= Cf . p. 19 f . 



mood is rather indistinct — ^it also results from the tender concern 
with politically ambiguous childhood events — ^the conclusion that the 
democratic attitudes behind the fihn lack vitality seems unavoidable. 

Other fihns of the first pre-Hitler group were more explicit. 
Overtly they tackled the basic problem of authority. Unlike the youth 
films of the stabilized period — ^screen dreams in which sympathy for 
authority had been disguised as protest against authority — ^these 
films were quite candid in criticizing authoritarian behavior. 

Outstanding among them was Madchen in Uniform (1931), 
produced by Deutsche Film Gemeinschaft, an independent coopera- 
tive. It was drawn from Christa Winsloe's play Gestern und 
Heute. Leontine Sagan directed the film under the guidance of Carl 
FroeHch, one of the most experienced directors of the German cinema. 

Madchen in Uniform, with an exclusively female cast, pictures 
life in a Potsdam boarding-school for the daughters of poor officers, 
who belong nevertheless to the aristocracy. In rendering this milieu, 
the film exposes the devastating effects of Prussianism upon a sensi- 
tive young girl. The headmistress of the school is the "spirit of Pots- 
dam" incarnate. Another Frederick the Great, she moves along with 
a cane and proclaims orders of the day which recall the glorious 
times of the Seven Years' War [Illus. 51]. For instance, when 
annoyed by complaints of scarce food, she decrees : "Through disci- 
pline and hunger, hunger and discipline, we shall rise again." While 
the girls on the whole manage to put up with the hardship inflicted 
upon them, Manuela, a newcomer, suffers intensely under a rule alien 
to her tender and imaginative nature. She craves helpful understand- 
ing and finds ruthless efficiency. Only one teacher is sympathetic: 
Fraulein von Bemburg. This woman, whose beauty has begun to fade 
under the strain of resignation, is not yet resigned enough to give up 
advocating a more considerate education. "I cannot stand the way 
you transform the children into frightened creatures," she says to 
the headmistress in a fit of insubordination which enrages the latter. 
Manuela senses Fraulein von Bemburg's unavowed affection for her 
and responds to it with a passion involving her suppressed desire for 
love. After a theatrical performance in honor of the headmistress' 
anniversary — day of harmless saturnalia and light spirits — ^this 
pent-up passion explodes. The girl is overjoyed with her success as 
an actress, and watered punch does the rest. In a state of frenzy, she 
blurts out her inmost feelings for the beloved teacher and then swoons. 



The consequences are terrible: by order of the scandalized head- 
mistress no one is allowed to speak to the culprit. Fraulein von Bem- 
burg disregards this interdict, but succeeds only in increasing the 
girl's anguish. Manuela believes herself deserted by the woman she 
idolizes and attempts to commit suicide. She is on the point of throw- 
ing herself from the top of the staircase, when the girls arrive and 
pull her back from outside the railing. Attracted by the unusual 
tumult, the headmistress approaches energetically — every inch a 
Fridericus ready to crush a revolt. They tell her what has happened, 
and it is as if she were suddenly stripped of her authority. An old, 
stooped woman, she retreats under the accusing stares of the girls 
and silently disappears in the dark corridor. 

The film owes part of its fame to the acting. Hertha Thiele's 
Manuela is a unique compound of sweet innocence, illusory fears and 
confused emotions. While she embodies youth in its utter vulner- 
ability, Dorothea Wieck as Fraulein von Bemburg still glows with a 
youth that is irretrievably departing. Each gesture of hers tells of 
lost battles, buried hopes and sublimated desires. The miBe en scene^ 
mellow rather than daring, excels in delicate shades. Potsdam is mas- 
terfully characterized through such simple leitmotivs as the statue 
of a soldier, the soldierlike steeple of the parish church and the re- 
mote blare of the garrison bugles. Towards the end of the film, a 
stately princess crowned by an enormous plumed hat reviews the 
girls ; the irony in the rendering of her shallow benevolence could not 
be subtler. Perhaps the most perfect sample of effective unobtrusive- 
ness is the repeated insertion of the school's beautiful old staircase 
hall. The first views serve to familiarize us with it. When it re-emerges 
in the middle of the film, the girls amuse themselves by throwing 
objects from the top of the stairs, and then, shuddering, express their 
horror of the abyss beneath them. These two series of shots enable 
the audience to grasp the significance of the final staircase scene in 
which Manuela, her mind bent on suicide, walks upstairs : her appear- 
ance at the top immediately evokes the image of the shuddering girls 
[lUus. 62] . To round out Manuela's own image, the symbolic power 
of light is explored in much the same manner as in Emix und die 
Detektive. Throughout the fihn, her luminous face appears against 
bright backgrounds, so that it seems all but one with them. This 
transparence makes Manuela particularly touching. 

Madchen in Uneform enjoyed immense popularity. In Ger- 
many, it was considered the best film of the year; in America, the 



reviewers were enthusiastic.^ The National Board praised the picture 
as "one of the most human fihns that has been made anywhere'' * ; the 
New Yorh Herald Tribune called it "the drama of the need for 
tenderness and sympathy as opposed to the harshness of a tyrannical 
system of boarding school domination." It was again Potamkin who 
went beyond such easy generalizations. He identified the fihn as a 
specifically German document and criticized it for its timidity. 
^^Madchen m Uniform ... is sincere but cautious, does not venture 
upon its own terrain, but preserves a respectable distance from its 
own social impHcations." ^ 

This criticism holds. What on the surface appears to be a whole- 
sale attack against rigid Prussian discipline is in the final analysis 
nothing but a plea for its humanization. It is true that the head- 
mistress indicts Fraulein von Bernburg for fomenting unrest among 
the girls and terms her a rebel. But this strange rebel is so loyal to 
the system which has broken her that in her last talk with Manuela 
she makes an effort to convince the trembling girl of the headmistress' 
good intentions. She does not want to do away with the "spirit of 
Potsdam" ; she merely fights its excesses. One is tempted to suspect 
that her understanding, if not motherly, attitude toward the girls 
originates in patriarchal notions inseparable from the authoritarian 
regime. Praulein von Bernburg is a heretic who never dreams of ex- 
changing the traditions she shares with the headmistress for a "new 

In the whole film, there is no hint of the possibiHty that authori- 
tarian behavior might be superseded by democratic behavior. This 
accounts for Potamkin's conjecture: "The fihn does not fail to leave 
a sense of faith in the princess, Hie benefactress, who had she but 
known would have changed all that oppression of arbitrary discipline 
— ^there is still a nostalgia for the nobility."*^ The final scene, it 
is true, elaborates upon the symbolic defeat of the headmistress: 
Prussianism seems definitely done for when she moves back through 
the dark corridor, leaving the bright foreground to Fraulein von 
Bernburg and the girls. Yet at its end this very scene invalidates 

« Krasaaia-Krausz, "Four Films from Germany," Close Up, March 1982, p. 89. See 
also Jahier, "42 Ans de Cinema," Le Bdle intellectuel du Cinima, pp. 67-68. 

* "MSdchen in Uniform," Natioital Board of Bevieuo Magozine, Sept^ct. 1982, 
p. 10. 

Watts, "Miidchen in Uniform," New York Herald Tribune, Sept. 21, 1932. 
« Potamkin, "Pabst and the Social Film," Howid 4; Born, Jan.-Jtfarch 1938, 
p. 805. 

^Potamkin, ifiW., p. 805. 



the impression that the headmistress has abdicated. As the shadows 
envelop her, the garrison bugles blare again. They have the last 
word in the film. The resumption of this motif at such an impor- 
tant moment unmistakably reveals that the principle of authority 
has not been shaken. The headmistress will continue to wield the 
scepter. And any possible softening of authoritarian discipline would 
only be in the interest of its preservation.^ 

Simultaneously with Madchen in Uniform appeared another 
film raising similar issues : Der Hauptmann von Kopenick (The 
Captain op Kopenick, 1931). It was fashioned by Richard Oswald 
after Carl Zuckmayer's 1928 play of the same title — a play built 
around the true story of the famous cobbler Wilhelm Voigt, who 
made the world of 1906 realize the absurdities of Prussian militarism. 
On the screen, the actor Max Adalbert portrayed this character with 
a vernacular authenticity that undoubtedly contributed to the film's 
success in Germany and abroad. 

Following the play closely, the film goes far in its criticism of 
Prussian police methods under the Kaiser. The police, not content 
with refusing a passport to the old jailbird Voigt, expel him from 
every town as an undesirable unemployed. It is a vicious circle, 
as he himself recognizes: if he had a job, the authorities would give 
him a passport, but since he has none, he cannot get a job. The pass- 
port becomes his obsession (an obsession millions of Europeans perse- 
cuted under Hitler would find quite understandable) . In his despair, 
the ingenious cobbler finally decides to capitalize on the spell any 
officer's uniform casts over German soldiers and civilians alike. He 
buys a worn-out uniform and dons it in a men's room from which he 
emerges as a demigod. His disguise is more than transparent; but 
who would dare to scrutinize a magic phenomenon.? The self- 
appointed captain marches two squads of soldiers whom he meets 
on the street to the town haU of Kopenick, arrests the dazed top 
officials "by order of his Majesty," without encountering the slightest 
doubt of his right to do so, and then asks for the passport office, the 
real objective of his military expedition. Alas, there is no passport 
office in Kopenick. Voigt throws in the sponge and slips away. But 
the story of his exploit leaks out, and the whole world laughs at the 

^ Hertha Thiele and Dorothea Wieck again co-starred in Wysbar's Anna vj/m 
EusABETH (1988); cf. FVm Society Programme, Nov. 19, 1938. Leontine Sagan 
directed, in England, Min op Towtosaow (1982), but this film about Oxford students 
was only a weak aftermath of her Madchek ik Unifoem. 



"captain of Kopenick." The film emphasizes particularly the au- 
thentic fact that the Kaiser, too, had a good laugh. At the end, the 
cobbler surrenders to the police. He is soon pardoned and granted 
the coveted passport — ^by order of his Majesty. 

An uncertain blend of satire and comedy, this film is even more 
ambiguous than Madchen in Unipobm. It ridicules German awe of 
the uniform and at the same time justifies Prussian militarism as 
such. For the Kaiser's laughter as well as his indulgent pardon re- 
duces the whole chain of absurdities to minor shortcomings of a sound 
and strong regime, which can well afford to tolerate them. One 
sequence, moreover, suggests that these shortcomings spring from 
the very Weltamchammg which is also the source of Prussia's power. 
Voigt, shocked by a new order of expulsion, shows it to his warm- 
hearted brother-in-law Friedrich, who has tried hard to rehabilitate 
him. Friedrich is a town clerk imbued with pride of the fatherland, 
the army, the Kaiser. He considers ill luck what the other resents as 
a flagrant injustice. Their discussion develops into a clash of two 
concepts of authority, and as Voigt freely voices his exasperation, 
Friedrich retorts: I refuse, and I am not even allowed to listen to 
you. We are governed by justice. And when you are crushed, you 
just have to submit to it. You have to keep quiet. Then you will stiU 
belong to us. 

This outburst of a bom authoritarian is recorded without a 
shadow of irony. In addition, the film tends to prove that Voigt 
lives up to Friedrich's tenets. Towards the end, when examined by 
the police, he declares that his desire to be buried in native soil 
kept him from crossing the borders to safety. This unwiUing rebel 
still ardently wants to "belong." That in the core of his soul he is 
as militaristic-minded as his brother-in-law f oUows conclusively from 
the very last scene, which resumes the motif of the film's opening 
shots : a column of soldiers moving along to the sound of a military 
band. Voigt, now a free man with a passport, comes upon the soldiers 
and, his feet electrified, marches off in their company. The Friedrichs 
win out. 

One more film dealing with the problem of militarism was Kadet- 
TEN (Cadets, 1931), a military-academy romance laid in Lichter- 
felde, the cradle of the Prussian officers' corps. While Madchen in 
Uniform honestly exposed the deficiencies of authoritarian dis- 
cipline. Cadets carefully concealed them. In this spineless grade-B 
production, the German West Point is passed off as a privileged 
boarding-school, whose director has all the traits of a soft-pedaling 



humanitarian — at least, the headmistress of Madcheit in Uniform 
would have despised him as such. It was all idle whitewash. But, as 
has been remarked earlier, many people wished to believe that in 
spite of the crisis aU was going well.^ Of course, their escapism only 
benefited the authoritarian-minded. 

Strong antimilitaristic feelings manifested themselves in Max 
Ophuls' delightful Liebblei, a Viennese fihn drawn from the famous 
Schnitzler play of that title, which had been several times transferred 
to the screen. This last version was released in Berlin as late as March 
16, 1933. It contrasts in a very touching way the tenderness of a 
love story with the severity of the military code of honor. A young 
lieutenant in love with a sweet Viennese girl is caUed to account by a 
baron who believes him to be the lover of the baroness. In reality, 
the lieutenant has broken off this liaison some time before. Neverthe- 
less the code requires a duel. The lieutenant is killed in it and his 
girl throws herself out of the window in a fit of despair. 

In rendering this terrible triumph of conventional prejudices, 
the film persistently points at their obsolescence and moral inade- 
quacy. When the lieutenant's friend, himself an officer, refuses to 
second in a duel provoked by a dead affair, his colonel tells him 
bluntly that he wiU have to leave the army; whereupon the officer 
expresses his readiness to start a new life on a Brazilian coffee plan- 
tation. The significance of this showdown is enhanced by the splendor 
of the love episodes proper. They glow with genuine emotion. In the 
middle of the film, the lieutenant and the girl drive in a horse-drawn 
sled through snowy woods, each assuring the other : "I swear that I 
love you." At the end, after the girl has committed suicide, their love 
survives in an epilogue formed by two shots : the first pans through 
the girl's familiar room, while her voice whispers: "I swear . . 
the second, evoking the image of the snowy woods, is accompanied 
by the words : . . that I love you." The code of honor appears the 
more odious as it is instrumental in destroying a love of such in- 

Considering the implications of Libbelei, its release at the hour 
of Hitler's ultimate triumph may seem to have been ill-timed. But 
the public enjoyed the film solely as a love story bathed in the 
enchanting atmosphere of Imperial Vienna, which would have been 
unimaginable without its lieutenants. From this angle, the duel was 
nothing but a remote event designed to add the touch of tragedy 
which many Germans consider an infallible sign of emotional depth. 

» Cf. p. 211. 


It is noteworthy that those fihns of the first pre-Hitler group which 
overtly indulged in social criticism belonged among the top-ranking 
artistic achievements of the time. Aesthetic quality and leftist sym- 
pathies seemed to coincide. 

Pabst again took the lead. In the three important films he made 
during the pre-Hitler years, his preoccupation with social problems 
outweighed the melodramatic inclinations characteristic of his New 
Objectivity period. Potamkin traces this change of Pabst's impres- 
sionable mind to the change of external conditions: "The sharpening 
conflict in Germany, the polarization of the forces, would naturally 
touch a man like Pabst. It would intensify and direct his social sus- 
picions and tend to dissipate from his concern the shallow com- 
placencies of the ladies and gentlemen of euphemy." ^ 

The first of those three fihns was WssTrnoNT 1918 (1930), a 
Nero production which appeared almost simultaneously with the 
Remarque film Axl Qitiet on the Western Front. Fashioned after 
Ernst Johannsen^s war novel, Fcmr of the Infantry (Vier von der 
Infanterie), it dealt with trench warfare in the last stages of World 
War I. On a stagnant front, a German lieutenant and his men try to 
hold their position against French attacks, and that is all. The battle 
flares up and subsides; hours of desperate action alternate with 
periods of complete lull. One day, a crowded dugout is hit by a shell, 
and but for the efforts of the rest of the group the men buried in it 
would have died of suffocation. In another sequence, a student-soldier 
volunteers to slip back to headquarters and on this occasion spends 
the first love night of his life with a French girl. Returning to the 
front, he meets his friend Karl going off on leave. But the war is 
inescapable: back home, Karl sees the queues before food shops and 
surprises his young wife in the company of a butcher boy, who has 

» Potamkin, **Pabst and the Social Film," Hoimd 4; Horn, Jan.-March 1988, 
p. 2d6. 




bought her favors with extra rations of meat. "One should not leave 
a wife alone for so long," Karl's mother says to her son. He dimly 
realizes that the war is behind it all — ^the war which goes on and on. 
When he rejoins his comrades, they tell him that the student has been 
slain by a French colonial soldier who, himself wounded, is heard 
screaming from no-man's land. Karl, seeking death, engages in a 
reconnoitering mission which takes him past the student's corpse ; a 
cramped hand juts out from a muddy pool. Then the French make a 
tank attack in overwhelming strength. The treacherous cahn follow- 
ing the attack is suddenly interrupted by a horrible roar. The Ger- 
man lieutenant shouts: "Hurrah, hurrah i" He has gone mad; his 
head resembles a death's-head. They drag him to a ruined church 
hastily converted into a field hospital. The dark nave is filled with 
moans and agonized cries [Ulus. 53] . A French and a German sol- 
dier, lying side by side, grope for each other's hands and murmur 
something like forgiveness or "Never again war." There is no chloro- 
form left for amputations. Karl dies, enraptured by a vision of his 

In its analysis of Westfront 1918 the London Film Society 
mentions the film's "striking similarities to the doctrine of the New 
Objectivity." ^ This remark points at one of Pabst's basic intentions : 
in his new war picture as well as in his previous films he endeavors to 
render the commonplace in real life with photographic veracity. 
Many shots betray the unconscious cruelty of the candid camera. 
Helmets and fragments of corpses form a weird stiU life ; somewhere 
behind the front lines, several privates carry scores of wooden crosses 
destined to adorn soldier graves. As always, Pabst manages to avoid 
cheap symbolism. The undamaged statue of Christ in the ruined 
church is made to appear a casual fact which only incidentally con- 
veys a symbolic meaning. Throughout the fihn war seems experienced 
rather than staged. 

To deepen this experience much use is made of traveling shots. 
They are produced by a camera which may travel long distances to 
capture the whole of some scenery or action. Pabst, eager to preserve 
the essential virtues of the silent film, now relied frequently on shots 
of this kind. He had to, for early sound technique did not yet allow 
him to resimae his favorite method of swift cutting. One traveling 
shot follows the student on his way to headquarters ; he falls down, 
rises again and then runs past the battered trunk of a lone tree which 
stands erect in the void. Similarly, the camera roams through the 

* Film Society Programme, Dec. 6, 1981. 



church, catching glimpses of the delirious Karl and a singing soldier 
who in his mental confusion keeps one of his arms hanging in mid- 

This **least showman-like of war-films'* is neither picturesque nor 
rich ra suspense.* A drab gray predominates and certain motifs 
reassert themselves insistently. Through such devices Pabst succeeds 
in impressing the dreary monotony of trench warfare upon the audi- 
ence. One of the often-repeated pictures is the barren stretch of land 
before the German front Hues. Its vegetation consists of torn barbed- 
wire fences, cut off from the sky by clouds of smoke or impenetrable 
fog. When for once the fog dissolves, rows of tanks emerge from the 
vacuum and successively fill the picture frame. The barren field is the 
landscape of death, and its permanent appearance only reflects what 
those caught in the gray limbo endure. The pandemonium of battle 
noises joins in, deepening these impressions. Inarticulate outbursts 
of panic and madness mingle with the ack-ack of machine guns and 
the whizz of bombs — a terrible cacophony which at intervals is 
drowned out by the long-lasting, deafening sound of an artillery 

The film's international prestige success resulted no less from its 
message than from its artistic merit. In an article comparing Pabst 
with Dovzhenko, John C. Moore comments on the hospital sequence: 
"In his final scenes Pabst makes one last desperate effort to convey to 
us not only the horror of war, but its futility and its gross stupidity 
as well. . . ." ® WESTraoNT 1918 is an outright pacifist dociunent 
and as such goes beyond the scope of New Objectivity. Its funda- 
mental weakness consists in not transgressing the limits of pacifism 
itself. The film tends to demonstrate that war is intrinsically mon- 
strous and senseless ; but this indictment of war is not supported by 
the slightest hint of its causes, let alone any insight into them. Silence 
spreads where it would be natural to ask questions. While Dovzhenko 
m his grandiose Ausentai. (1929) reveals the Ukrainian Civil War to 
be an inevitable explosion of pent-up class hatred, Pabst in his World 
War fihn confines himself to expressing his abhorrence of war in 

Potamkin, seduced by Pabst, the artist, tries to justify Pabst, the 
» Cf. Spottiswoode, A Grammar of the Film, p. 241. 

•* Quoted from Potainldn, "Pabst and the Social Film,'* Bowid ^ Bom, Jaa^ 
March 1988, p. 298. 

* Spottiswoode, A GramnMr of the FUm, p. 80. 

• Moore, "Pabst— Dovjenko— A Comparison," Cloie Up, Sept 1982, p. 180. 



humanitarian, by contending that the pacifism of Westpront 1918 
"is on its way to an acute attack upon the warmakers." But this 
appraisal sounds somewhat optimistic ; in fact, Pabst's artistic bril- 
liance, instead of compensating for the absence of pertinent argu- 
ments, makes his lack of reasoning all the more obvious. Except for 
stray pacifist remarks in the hospital sequence, the whole of West- 
front 1918 amounts to a noncommittal survey of war horrors. Their 
exhibition is a favorite weapon of the many pacifists who indulge in 
the belief that the mere sight of such horrors suffices to deter people 
from war. 

The Nazis were quick in discrediting this pacifist "argument." 
Hans Zoberlein's Stosstbupf 1917 (Shock Tkoop 1917), a World 
War film produced soon after Hitler's rise to power, seems to have 
been a deliberate answer to Westpront 1918 ; at least, the two films 
resemble each other strikingly. Zoberlein renders the horrors of 
trench warfare with a realistic objectivity equaling, if not exceeding, 
Pabst's and, exactly like Pabst, elaborates upon the despondency of 
the soldiers. There is not a single note of exceptional bravery or 
heroism in his film. Nevertheless he manages to exclude any p£».cifist 
implications by interpreting the last stages of World War I as a 
struggle for Germany's survival. In other words, the display of war 
horrors, Pabst's main "argument," is not an effective instrument 
against war. The Nazi film points up the unreliable vagueness of ti-e 
Pabst film. 

Pre-Hitler pacifism found another outlet in Victor Trivas' Nie- 
MANDSLAND (Hell ON Earth, 1931), a fantastic war fihn based 
upon an idea by Leonhard Frank. Five soldiers of different nations — 
a German carpenter, a Frenchman, a British ofiScer, a Jewish tailor 
and a Negro singer — ^get lost between the front lines and geek shelter 
in an abandoned trench under a ruined building. While the war 
around them draws ever closer, they change from "enemies" into com- 
rades who learn to understand and respect each other. A fraternal 
spirit animates this human oasis in no-man's land. The whole fihn is 
an attempt to defame war by contrasting it with a community which 
has all the traits of the lamasery of Shangri-La. The attempt is 
thoroughly abortive, for Heli. on Earth disregards the different 
causes of wars in much the same way as Westpront 1918, and in 
addition blurs the image of peace conveyed by the community of the 
five soldiers. Since this community results from the acute pressure of 



catastrophic events, it is nothing but an emergency brotherhood. 
Many European refugees, experienced in such temporary frater- 
nities, know about the quick transition from brotherliness to loneli- 
ness. This aesthetically interesting film opposes the inadequate dream 
of a terrestrial paradise to a shadowy notion of **hell on earth.''* 
Particularly evasive is the symbolic concluding scene in which the 
five are forced out of their refuge by the approaching battle. "The 
last we see of them,'* Shelley Hamilton writes, "is five figures side by 
side against the sky, tramping down the wire entanglements that 
block their way, stepping forward together.'"' From no-man's 
land they move towards never-never land, and the war con- 
tinues. The German militarists did not have to fear the German 

After a siUy provincial comedy, Skandax um Eva (The Eva 
Scandal, 1930),® Pabst made Dee Dreigroschenoper (The Beg- 
gar's Opera, 1931), a Wamer-Tobis picture drawn from Brecht- 
Weill's successful play of that title, which itself was based upon John 
Gay's old Beggar's Opera, The fihn version, originally influenced by 
Brecht, differed much from the play, but on the whole preserved its 
social satire, genuine lyricism and revolutionary coloring. Kurt 
Weill adjusted Ws songs to the exigencies of the screen. 

The plot, laid in an imaginary London of the end of the nine- 
teenth century, features three rogues : Mackie Messer, the leader of a 
gang of criminals, Peachum, the king of the beggars, and Tiger 
Brown, the police commissioner.® Mackie, upon leaving the brothel 
which harbors his mistress Jenny, meets Peachum's daughter Polly 
on the street. After a few dances in a caf 6 he decides to marry her and 
orders his underlings to make proper arrangements for the wedding. 
Many London shops are plundered that night. The sumptuous wed- 
ding party takes place in a deserted underground warehouse, with 
the corrupt police coximiissioner as the guest of honor. Tiger Brown 
benevolently overlooks tlie crimes of his old friend Mackie. Peachum 
on his part is so infuriated over Polly's marriage that he threatens 

Hamilton, "Hell on Earth," NatioiMl Board of Refiiew Magazine^ AprU 1988, 
p. 9. Cf. Kraszna-Krausz, **Four Films from Germany," Qlos^ U'p, March 1982, 
pp. 44-45. 

» Cf. Potamkin, "Pabst and the Social Film," Bowid 4f Horr^ Jan.-March 1933, 
p. 298. Potamkin decidedly overestimated this film. For a more critical comment, see 
"Skandal um Eva," Close Up, Sept. 1980, pp. 22U22. 

s Cf. Kotha, Celluloid, p. 109. Barry, "The Beggar's Opera," National Board of 
Review Magazine, June 1981, pp. 11-18. 



to disturb the imminent coronation of the Queen by a beggars' 
demonstration unless the poKce commissioner sends Mackie to the 
gallows. Unfortunately, the police commissioner cannot risk imperil- 
ing the coronation. Mackie hides in the brothel. It does not help him 
much, for his jealous mistress, Jenny, turns informer. Even though 
Mackie is captured, Peachimi in his distrust of Tiger Brown's prom- 
ises mobilizes the beggars. Meanwhile Polly embarks upon an amaz- 
ing career. With the gang members as her associates, she opens a 
bank, arguing that lawful robberies pay better than illegal activities. 
This whole banking farce has been added in the film. No sooner does 
Peachum learn of his daughter's prosperous enterprise than he wants 
to have a share in it. He implores the beggars not to interrupt the 
royal procession, but they refuse to listen to him. While they march 
on, Mackie escapes from prison with the aid of Jenny, whose love 
surpasses her jealousy — she is a late descendant of the German stage 
and screen prostitutes. The beggars' demonstration causes the down- 
fall of both Peachum and Tiger Brown. Yet Mackie cares sufficiently 
for the two to admit them as partners in Polly's bank. A new financial 
empire is in the making, and the three rogues become pillars of 

Since this essentially theatrical plot could not well be made into a 
realistic film, Pabst reversed his usual method of approach : instead 
of penetrating our existing world, he built up an unreal universe. 
The whole film is bathed in a "queer, fantastic atmosphere," greatly 
intensified by Andre j Andre jew's settings.^^ In discussing them, 
Rotha mentions the "incredibly steep and very long flight of narrow 
wooden steps" in the underground warehouse and also praises *H;he 
late-Victorian brothel with its paper-patterned windows and antima- 
cassars, its multitude of useless ornaments and its giant negress 
statues standing about the room." To enhance the bizarre char- 
acter of these interiors, the illusionary possibilities of glass are thor- 
oughly utilized. The niunerous screens of glass in the caf^ which 
serves as background to Mackie's short courtship apparently have 
no function other than to transform the crowded and smoky room 
into a confusing maze [Illus. 54j] . Later Mackie is seen entering the 
brothel behind a glass partition which surrounds him with a furtive 

The characters of this film appear as true products of their 

" Quoted from Rotha, Celluloid, p. HI. 
" J6iU, pp. Hl-12. 



milieu. On his way to the docks, where a ballad singer is performing, 
Mackie walks past a row of prostitutes and pimps who lean motion- 
less against the houses ; it is as if the houses exuded them. The ballad 
singer emerges at regular intervals, and since his songs comment on 
the action, the action itself assumes the air of a ballad. All seems to be 
dreamed. This impression is also strengthened by F. A. Wagner's 
camera work. Owing to an uninterrupted succession of pan and 
traveling shots, the scenery never comes to a standstill. The move- 
ments of the brothel room resemble those of a ship's cabin. Normal 
stability is upset and a hovering phantom world arises.^^ 

Although Pabst establishes this world with undeniable mastery, 
his rendering of Dreigroschenopeb is less adequate than the Berlin 
stage production of 1928. While the theatrical mise en sc^ne isolated 
the episodes of the play, so as to stress its wanton, kaleidoscopic char- 
acter, the screen treatment eliminates all caesuras in the interest of a 
coherent whole. Motifs originally intended to produce effects of light 
improvisation are woven into an elaborate texture, as compact and 
decorative as tapestry. Its heavy beauty muf9es the clang of satire. 
The film is the tour de force of an artist not too familiar with spheres 
beyond the realm of what he himself once called "real life." 

In contending that this Pabst film "is a further step in his prog- 
ress towards social conclusiveness," Potamkin thinks in particular of 
the beggars' demonstration.^® It is the one sequence of the film in 
which deadly earnestness disperses all jests. For once, reality breaks 
through. And as if the touch of it restored Pabst's artistic freedom, 
he is able in this brief sequence to mirror the irresistible impact of 
revolutionized masses. The beggars, marching through narrow, dim 
streets, not only ignore their own leader's attempt to force them 
back, but continue to advance when they reach the bright thorough- 
fare in expectation of the royal cortege. The police cannot stop their 
forward thrust; the horse guards try in vain to keep them away 
from the carriage of the Queen. For a memorable moment, all life is 
arrested. Fully exposed to the light which increases their ugliness, the 
beggars stare at the white-clad Queen, who makes an effort to endure 
the threatening gaze of these sinister figures. Then she surrenders. 
She hides her face behind her bouquet, and the magic spell fades 
away. The royal procession moves on, and the beggars return to the 

" Cf. Arnheim, Film ala Kunat, pp. 125-2e. 

18 Potamkin, "Pabst and the Social Film,'* Bound Horn, Jaii.-March 1988. 
p. 300. 



darkness from which they came. Potamkin defines this passage as 
"a very stirring approximation of the revolutionary march." 

Except for the beggars' demonstration, the film mingled sincere 
enlightenment and frivolous bluff after the manner of the play. It 
was an iridescent spectacle which both antagonized and amused bour- 
geois audiences. Its fair success indicates not so much a turn towards 
the left as an unbalanced wavering of viewpoints and attitudes dur- 
ing those years of crisis. 

Pabst himself seemed unwavering. At about this time, he assumed 
social responsibilities, succeeding the late Lupu Pick as president of 
Dacho, the top organization of German film workers.^** His "progress 
towards social conclusiveness'' culminated in EIameradschapt (Com- 
radeship, 1931) , a Nero picture suggested by the leftist writer Karl 
Otten. It is based upon an actual French mining disaster that oc- 
curred more than a decade before World War I in Courrieres, near 
the German border. The event was interesting for a particular 
reason : German miners had come to the aid of their French comrades. 
In the film, Pabst heightened the significance of the story by making 
it take place shortly after Versailles.^® 

The fihn's introductory section exposes economic and political 
conditions in the mining district. Under the pressure of unemploy- 
ment scores of German miners try their luck across the border, but 
since the nearby French mine has no jobs to offer, they return home 
empty-handed. Occasional outbursts of French chauvinism increase 
the tension. In a restaurant of the French coal town, Franfoise, a 
native girl, offends three German miners by flatly refusing to dance 
with one of them. The catastrophe in the French mine and the ensu- 
ing panic of the town are rendered in episodes reminiscent of Zola's 

News of the disaster quickly reaches a gang of German miners 
busily scrubbing themselves in an enormous washroom. This sequence 
is the turning point of the film, for, after a heated discussion in which 
much pent-up resentment against the French explodes, the miners 
decide to volunteer in the rescue action. The director of the mine 
reluctantly grants them permission, and off they go. Deep down in 
the pit, the three miners who have been offended by Fran9oise head 

i»76iU, p. S04. 
i«J6tU. p. 801. 


in the same direction. They remove the iron fence which since Ver- 
sailles has marked the boundary between the French and German 
shafts, and then join the rescuers [lUus, 55] . 

Nightmarish scenes of anguish and heroism unfold amidst splin- 
tered wooden supports, pools of water and overhanging rock. As 
masses of stone crash with the thundering noise of a bombardment, a 
young French miner on the verge of being suffocated believes him- 
self back in the war. Protected by a gas mask, one of the Germans 
approaches the raving Frenchman, who summons up his last strength 
to fend off this imaginary enemy. His hallucination materializes in a 
very short scene in which the two transform themselves into soldiers 
desperately trying to kill each other. Only after knocking the 
Frenchman down is the German able to drag him to safety. The 
wounded German miners are taken care of in a French hospital. 
When they depart, the whole town escorts them back to the border. 
There a brief stop is made, and words of farewell seal the bonds of 
mutual sympathy. Spokesmen of the two miner groups sponta- 
neously condemn the war, extol the fraternity of aU workers and 
insist upon unity between Germany and France. In the concluding 
scene, an acid epilogue, the miners' outlook is contrasted with the 
actual situation. One French and one German official, separated by 
a new iron fence in the shafts, exchange protocols ratifying the 
re-establishment of the frontier. Versailles wins out. The strictly 
symmetrical gestures of both officials satirize this victory of bureau- 
cratic wisdom. 

With Comradeship, Pabst again came into his own. His innate 
sense of reality strikingly reasserts itself in the washroom episode. 
An all-pervading spray envelops the naked miners as weU as the rows 
of clothes which hang down from a distant ceiling ; it is as if a weird 
mass of animal carcfisses loomed high above the faintly gleaming 
group of lathered human bodies.^"^ Nothing seems staged in this epi- 
sode ; rather, the audience is let into one of the arcana of everyday 
life [Ulus. 56]. The studio-built mine gives a complete illusion of 
subterranean rock. Emo Metzner, who made the settings, remarked 
that candid shots of a real mining disaster would scarcely have pro- 
duced a convincing impression of it. "In this instance nature could 
not be used as a model for the studio." Dreadful reaHty is insepa- 

" Gnine's miner film, Exptosioir (1928), seems to have included a simUar scene; 
cf. BaJdzs, Der aichtbare Mensch, pp. 101-3. 

Metzner, «A Mining Film,** Close Up, March 1982, p. 4. 



rable from the halo with which our imagination surrounds it. One of 
the traveling shots exploring the mine glides from a conglomerate of 
broken beams and uprights to a somber stretch of stone suddenly 
illuminated by an inexplicable light.^^ 

Even minor details carry special weight in the film. After the ex- 
plosion, the panic-stricken townspeople hurry towards the mine, 
except for an isolated tailor who is standing indifferently before his 
shop window containing only a single male dummy. A close shot 
reveals the similarity of both figures, intimating that the tailor is 
equally void of life. To shape proletarian mass scenes without bor- 
rowing from the Russians was apparently impossible in those days. 
When a frantic crowd attempts to storm the gate of the French 
mine, the watchman's frightened face is seen encircled by the bare 
arms of his fanatic assailants. This close-up might well have figured 
in any Pudovkin film.^® 

Pabst's mining film marks a progress in theoretical thought; for 
he now tries to make his pacifism invulnerable by endorsing the 
socialist doctrine. Comrabeship advocates the international solidar- 
ity of the workers, characterizing them as the pioneers of a society 
in which national egoism, this eternal source of wars, wiU be abol- 
ished. It is the German miners, not their superiors, who conceive the 
idea of the rescue action. The scene in which they urge the director to 
consent is the more revealing as it illustrates the omnipotence of 
authoritarian rule in the German mine. Throughout the interview, 
which is laid in the decorative staircase hall of the administration 
building, the miners remain on the ground floor, while the director 
talks to them from the height of a landing. It is as if he stood on a 
balcony, and in addition the camera angles are chosen in such a way 
that they accentuate his position. Not content with stigmatizing the 
phenomenon of nationalism, Pabst interprets it in a socialist sense. 
The passages dealing vriith the management of the French and the 
German mine subtly imply the alliance between capitalists and 
nationalists. This is also the meaning of the symbolic epilogue, which, 
however, was frequently mistaken for a German protest against 
Versailles. Perhaps, Pabst failed to make himseK clear because of his 
unfamiHarity with symbolic language. 

That the socialist pacifism of Comradeship was better founded 

" Cf. Spottiswoode, A Grammuir of the Film, pp. 240-41. 

20 Cf. Potamkin, **Pabst and the Social FUm," Bound ^ Horrh Jan^March 1988, 
p. 801. 


than the humanitarian pacifism of Westfront 1918 does not justify 
the assumption that it was more substantial. Under the Republic, the 
German socialists, especially the Social Democrats, proved increas- 
ingly unable to grasp the significance of what happened around 
them. Misguided by conventionalized Marxist concepts, they over- 
looked the importance of the middle class as well as the ramified 
mental roots of the existing national aspirations. They had no 
psychological insight ; it never occurred to them that their simplistic 
frame of reference was inadequate to explain the turn of the petty- 
bourgeoisie towards the right or the attraction the Nazi creed exerted 
on German youth. Pabst adopted the socialist ideas of class solidarity 
and pacifism at a time when these ideas had degenerated into anemic 
abstractions and 6ts a consequence the Social Democrats could not be 
expected to cope with the actual situation. In fact, as if the dead 
weight of an outworn ideology had exhausted them, the Social Demo- 
crats watched the Nazi movement grow and grow without stirring 
from their apathy. Comradeship reflects this exhaustion. Excep- 
tional though it is, the film does not include a single motif which 
would have challenged the traditional notions of life in the radical 
manner of Metzner's Accident or Jutzi's Mother Krausen's Jotjr- 
NET TO Happiness. Pabst penetrates reality visually, but leaves its 
intellectual core shrouded. 

The film was praised by the reviewers and shunned by the public. 
In Neukolln, one of Berlin's proletarian quarters, it ran before 
empty seats, while some dull comedy in the immediate neighborhood 
attracted huge crowds .^^ Nothing could be more symptomatic of the 
workers' inertia. Pabst himself abandoned the cause he had advocated 
so ardently. Atlantide (Atiantis, 1932), his last German pre- 
Hitler film, was an outright retrogression from "social conclusive- 
ness" into pure escapism. The English film critic Bryher comments 
on this screen version of Pierre Benoit's fantastic desert novel in an 
article devoted to several films she saw in Berlin in the summer of 
1932: "It is never done in a Hollywood manner, and the atmosphere 
of the desert is absolutely authentic. But I could not read a Vic- 
torian novel at this time of crisis. . . 

During the following years, Pabst established headquarters in 

Information offered hj Mr. Jean Oser, New York. See also Kraszna-Krausz, 
"Four Films from Germany," Close Up, March 1982, p. 42. 

22 Bryher, "Notes on Some FOms," Close Up, Sept. 1982, p, 199. Cf . Jahier, "42 
Ans de Cinema," Le Bdle inteUeetuel da CmSma, p. 70. 



Paris. There he started with Don Quixote (1933) , which was beau- 
tifully photographed, very boring and perhaps halfway sincere, and 
then directed or supervised one melodrama after another. At the out- 
break of World War II he returned to Nazi Germany. And that 
was that. 

"Berlin is too unsettled, too fearful of the coming winter, to care 
much for cinema," Bryher notes in her above-mentioned article. 
"The atmosphere in the streets is only to be compared with that of 
any large city in 1914-1918. After two or three days, the visitor 
wonders why revolution does not happen, not that there is any 
specific thing to provoke it apparent to the eyes, but outbreak 
against this odd insecure heaviness is to be preferred than waiting for 
a storm that has sometime got to burst." And she adds: "The film 
that interests Berlin most at this moment is Kuhle Wampe" 

Ktjhle Wampe (1932), shown in America under the title 
Whither Germany.?, was the first, and last, German film which 
overtly expressed a communist viewpoint. Bert Brecht and Ottwalt 
did the script ; the music was by Hanns Eisler. Thousands of mem- 
bers of such leftist organizations as the Labor Sports Union, a 
Workers' Theatre Unit and the Workers' Chorus of Greater Berlin 
volunteered for the mass scenes.^^ It was a true free-lance film, pro- 
duced under the greatest of difficulties. "About half way through the 
film the company whose sound installation was being used objected 
on political grounds. They could not begin the picture over again 
from the beginning and therefore much of the money . . . went 
. . . into lawsuits." 

The first section of this film about the unemployed details a typi- 
cal situation in a worker's family wrecked by the economic crisis. 
The father, long jobless, is discouraged and embittered; the back- 
ward-minded mother stubbornly quotes the saying that any able 
individual is bound to make headway in life. Their daughter Anni 
(Hertha Thiele), the only working member of the family, braces 
herself against the morbid atmosphere at home, while the son finally 
succumbs to it. Unemployed, he lives on his dole. After one of his 
fruitless job hunts he learns from his father that the dole will be 
cut by a new "emergency decree." The father goes off to his tavern; 

23 Bryher, "Notes on Some Fams," Close Up, Sept. 1982, p. 196. 

2* Film Forum, Program 3, March 19, 1988. 

2» Bryher, "Notes on Some Films," Close Up, Sept 1982, p. 198. 


whereupon the son, in a state of utter despondency, throws himsell 
out of the window. "One less unemployed,'^ comments a woman on 
the street. Since the family can no longer pay rent, they are ordered 
to move out. Anni implores the authorities to revoke this order, but 
they insist upon the eviction. 

The second section is laid in "Kuhle Wampe," a tent colony of 
the unemployed on the outskirts of Berlin. The family has been taken 
to this shelter by Fritz, a young mechanic and Anni's lover. When 
Anni tells him that she is going to have a child, Fritz in his desire 
to shun responsibilities tries to persuade her of the necessity of an 
abortion. Here Brecht borrows the motif of conversion from Mother 
Krattsen's Journey to Happiness: impressed by the arguments 
of a class-conscious worker-friend, Fritz reluctantly decides to face 
the music.^^ His proposal to Anni results in a betrothal party which, 
considering the scanty living standards of the tent colonists, is sur- 
prisingly opulent. Anni's parents and other elder people empty 
plates and bowls with gluttonous greed, show their feelings in hilari- 
ous shouting and singing, and at the end get hopelessly drunk. The 
idea is obviously to characterize the old generation of workers as a 
lot of Philistines who have no more jSght in them and drown their 
resignation in mean excesses. Anni is determined not to sink into the 
swamp that threatens to engulf her. As Fritz admits that he feels 
he is being victimized by their engagement, she immediately breaks it 
off and also parts with her parents to live a life of her own in 

In the third and last section, a mood of hope supersedes the 
gloominess. Having joined the workers' sports movement, Anni at- 
tends a sport festival held by the radical labor unions. There she 
again meets Fritz, who meanwhile has lost his job. Even though the 
two avoid talking about themselves, it is made unmistakably clear 
that they still love each other and will become reconciled on a 
sounder basis. But this private idyll is overshadowed by the display 
of collective life. Candid-camera work zealously records an uninter- 
rupted succession of athletic contests, speaking choruses and open- 
air theatrical performances [Illus. 57]. The whole festival breathes 
a youthful optimism which expresses itself in the words of the con- 
cluding song: "Forward, never relax . . . don't be resigned, but 
determine to alter and better the world." The film ends in a com- 
muters' train crowded with middle-class people and returning young 

2»Cf. p. 198. 



athletes. English reviewers have praised this final episode for its 
cinematic rendition of such abstract subject-matter as a discussion 
on economics. One traveler, a shopkeeper or the like, starts argu- 
ing about a newspaper item reporting the burning of several 
million pounds of coffee in Brazil, and the ensuing controversy 
develops into a clash of opinions intended to reveal the antagonism 
between proletarian and bourgeois mentality. Whenever the workers 
draw revolutionary inferences from economic facts, their opponents 
turn nationalistic or take refuge in nebulous generalities. At the 
station, the young disperse, singing "Forward, never relax. . . 

Of course, the board of censors banned the film, on the pretext 
that it vilified (1) the President of the Reich, (2) the administration 
of justice, and (3) religion. The first charge referred to the passage 
in which an "emergency decree" issued by Hindenburg appears as 
the cause of the son's suicide; the second bore on the attack against 
current methods of eviction and Fritz's indifference to the illegality 
of abortion; the third was exacted from some shots of naked youths 
who plunge into the water while the church bells ring. Along with 
other critics, I opposed an interdict based upon such questionable 
arguments.^® Finally the film was admitted, with a number of cuts 
tending to neutralize its political significance. 

The young Bulgarian S. Th. Dudow who directed Kuhle 
Wampe had learned from the Russians to characterize social situa- 
tions through well-chosen faces and suggestive camera angles. A 
convincing proof of his talent is the opening sequence which pictures 
a group of unemployed, among them the son, in search of jobs. 
Near a triangular vacant lot, whose sadness reflects theirs, the 
young workers linger with their bicycles waiting for the newsboy 
with the latest papers. Then, after an expert glance through the 
ads, the group starts moving. They bicycle past "No help wanted" 
signboards, enter a factory gateway without alighting and re- 
emerge instantly, repeat this vain attempt several times, and wheel 
on and on, never separating and always increasing in speed. It is 
rare that the intangible spirit of a whole epoch is crystallized in such 
clear-cut images. This sequence with its telling details of rotating 
wheels and nonconmiittal house fayades gives a concise idea of what 
German life was like during the crucial pre-Hitler days. In other 

Film Society Programmey Dec 11, 1982. Kracauer, ** *Kxihle Wampe' verboten 1" 
Frankfurter Zeittmg, April 6, 1982. 

*® Kracauer, ibid» Cf, also Boehmer and Reitz, Fihn in Wirtshaft und Recht, 
pp. 51, 58, 59-60. 



places, Dudow's lack of experience becomes obvious. The pictorial 
report of the sport festival is unnecessarily long, and the introduc- 
tory shots of each section are assembled in too absent-minded a 
fashion to set the tone effectively. 

The film's underlying radicalism manifests itself in the unusual 
construction of the plot. That the son kills himself in the first section 
practically defies all German screen traditions. Dudow once told me 
that, while preparing Kuhi^ Wampe, he was urged by his pro- 
ducer and several advisers to shift this suicide episode to the film's 
finale so as to re-establish the natural order of things. In fact, since 
the early days of the German cinema nearly all important films have 
ended with an act of submission, and the suicide so frequent in them 
is nothing but the most extreme and dramatic form of this act. In 
displacing the suicide motif, Kxthle Wampe disavows psychological 
retrogression. This is confirmed by the relation between the son's 
suicide and the song which exhorts youth: "Don't be resigned, but 
determine to alter and better the world." Significantly, the song is 
reiterated at the very end, the normal place for suicides. Through 
these words as well as their position the film explicitly repudiates 
the submissive impulses which drive the son to his death. 

The same revolutionary attitude is apparent in the love affair 
between Anni and Fritz, Perhaps misled by the many cuts, an 
American reviewer remarked of it: "It is one of the chief defects 
of the picture that its author . . . has been unable to show the 
proper connection between the amorous diflSculties of his heroine and 
the problems of the despairing unemployed. . . ." But even in 
the mutilated version the development of the love story has a distinct 
bearing on the situation of the worker class. Aimi precedes Fritz 
in liberating herself, and Fritz finds his way back to her as soon as 
he, too, becomes sufficiently adult — that is, class-conscious in this 
context — ^to suppress his bourgeois inclinations. What holds true of 
the two lovers, the film suggests, also applies to the workers in gen- 
eral: their freedom is the result of self -emancipation, their happi- 
ness depends on their maturity. 

Although undeniably genuine, this radical attitude lacks flair 
and experience on the political plane. It is an intellectual radicalism, 
unable to cope with reality. The gravest blunder committed in 
KuHLE Wampe is its gross attack against the petty-bourgeois men- 
tality of the old workers — an attack obviously designed to stigmatize 

Watts, "Kuhle Wampe," New York Herald Tribune, AprU 26, 1988. 



social democratic behavior. At a time when the menace of Nazi domi- 
nation was felt throughout Germany, it would have been better 
strategy to emphasize the solidarity of the worker masses instead 
of criticizing a large portion of them. In addition, this criticism 
is spiteful rather than solicitous. Like any reactionary film, KuHiiE 
Wampe in its depiction of the betrothal party goes so far as to 
ridicule the bad table manners of the older generation. Such a 
petty insinuation was bound to increase retrogressive obduracy on 
the part of the offended unemployed; that is, it counteracted the 
film's own ejffort to break up retrogression. In the l&st section, com- 
munistic youth is introduced as the vanguard of revolution, the true 
antagonist of the powers of darkness. And what are these pioneers 
doing? They indulge in athletic games and sing songs fuU of a 
militant spirit and grandiose promise. But since sport festivals are 
held by people of all colors, this one do€S not prove the particular 
strength of the Reds. Nor do the songs carry enough weight to 
warrant the belief in a redemption of the unemployed, whose misery 
is so impressively pictured in the first section. Compared with the 
display of their hardships, the "Forward, never relax . . sounds 
merely rhetorical. 

Nevertheless, hope might have outbalanced suffering, had the 
demoralized old workers been contrasted not only with youth groups 
but also with groups of their own age. The film invalidates its 
cause by expressing differences of attitude through differences be- 
tween generations. The optimism typical of radical youth is in 
itself no guarantee for the future. It is true that during the dis- 
cussion on economics the young athletes live up to the standards of 
Marxian propagandists of any age. But their line of argument is 
the party line, and after asserting it they immediately resume the 
song which marks them as youths. KtrHLE Wampe is not free from 
glorifying youth as such, and to some extent its young revolution- 
aries resemble those youthful rebels who in numerous German films 
of the opposite camp are finally ready to submit or to enforce sub- 
mission. This resemblance is by no means accidentaL Towards the 
end of the pre-Hitler period many anguished young unemployed 
were so unbalanced that one evening they would be swayed by a 
communistic spokesman and the next succumb to a Nazi agitator's 

30 Most of this analysis is drawn from my article ***Kuhlc Wampe' verbotenl** 
Frankfurter Zeiiwng, April 5, 1932. 



When what remained of the German Republic was about to 
collapse, Fritz Lang made Das Testament des Dr. Mabtjse (The 
Last Will of Dr. Mabttse) , a sort of last-ditch stand against im- 
pending disaster. But the curtain fell before this Nero production 
could be released, and no sooner did the Nazis take over than Dr. 
Goebbels banned it. In his subsequent talk with Lang he expressed 
his delight in Metropolis, without so much as mentioning his dis- 
approval of the new Mabuse film ; whereupon Lang deemed it wise 
to leave Germany.^^ An uncut print of the fihn's French version, 
made simultaneously with the German original, was smuggled across 
the border and edited in France. 

In 194j3, when the film reached New York audiences, Lang wrote 
a "Screen Foreword," expounding his original intentions: "This 
film was made as an allegory to show Hitler's processes of terrorism. 
Slogans and doctrines of the Third Reich have been put into the 
mouths of criminals in the film. Thus I hoped to expose the masked 
Nazi theory of the necessity to deliberately destroy everything which 
is precious to a people. . . . Then, when everything collapsed and 
they were thrown into utter despair, they would try to find help in 
the 'new order.' " 

Even though this self-interpretation smacks of hindsight, it is 
nevertheless true that the film foreshadows Nazi practices. The 
noted psychiatrist Baum, its main character, is under the hypnotic 
influence of Dr. Mabuse, who, it will be remembered, went mad at 
the end of Lang's first Mabuse film, of 1922.^ In the sequel, this 
early screen tyrant reappears as an inmate of Baum's lunatic 
asylum, covering innumerable sheets of paper with detailed instruc- 
tions for attacks on railways, chemical factories, the currency sys- 
tem and so on. His writings form a manual of crime and destruction, 
governed by a maxim which strikes a familiar note : "Mankind must 
be thrown into an abyss of terror." Baum, possessed by what he calls 
the genius of Mabuse, leads a double life like Dr. Caligari: while 
playing the role of the psychiatrist, he also heads an underworld 
organization through which he painstakingly carries out the mad- 
man's scrawled instructions. From murder to forgery his gang covers 

31 **Fritzi Lang," New York World Telegram, June 11, 1941. Cf. FUm Society 
Froffrwmme, May 6, 1934. See also p. 164. Lang left Germany for France, where he 
made Lhjom (1935). For Lang's whole development, see Weinberg, An Index to . , » 
Fritz Lang. 

»«Lang, "Screen Forward," program to the film, World Theatre, New York, 
March 19, 1948. 
33 Cf. p. 82, 



the whole field of criminal activities. After Mabuse's death, this 
paranoiac aspirant to world domination believes himself a reincar- 
nation of his idol. He is tracked down by Chief Inspector Lohmann, 
the same screen sleuth who established the identity of the child- 
murderer in M. A systematic-minded and shrewd police officer, 
Lohmann represents the German version of the Anglo-Saxon detec- 
tive. When he finally solves the case, Baum flees into the former cell 
of Mabuse, where his own madness becomes manifest. 

The film is inferior to M. In it, Lang accumulates mere thrills, 
elaborating upon them zealously. Whenever Baum feels swayed by 
Mabuse, the latter's ghostly apparition emerges with clocklike punc- 
tuaHty. Since repetitious shock effects tend to neutralize each other, 
the result is monotony rather than an increase of suspense. Never- 
theless the fihn includes two brilliant episodes which testify to Lang's 
"uncanny genius for invoking terror out of the simplest things." 
The first is the opening sequence. It shows a man cautiously moving 
about in an abandoned workshop that seems to be shaken by a per- 
petual, roaring drone. His apparent fear and this nerve-racking 
noise are bound to torment an audience which does not yet realize 
that the man is spying on Baum's counterfeiters and that the noise 
itself originates in their nearby printing press. Life under a terror 
regime could not be rendered more impressively, for throughout the 
sequence the imminence of doom is sensed and no one knows when and 
where the ax wiU f aU. The other episode also features the spying man, 
who is one of Lohmann's detectives. After his capture by the gang 
this victim of Baum's sadistic cruelty, now insane, spends his days 
in a cell of the lunatic asylum. He imagines himself as living in a 
vacuum, and as Lohmann approaches him he shrinks back panic- 
stricken and sings with an animal voice, "Gloria — ^gloria!" Lang 
succeeds in making the vacuum seem real. Transparent walls of glass 
surround the mad detective, and the luminous immateriality breeds 
horrors more shattering than those of a shadow world. 

Dr. Goebbels undoubtedly knew why he banned the film. How- 
ever, it is hard to believe that average German audiences would have 
grasped the analogy between the gang of screen criminals and the 
Hitler gang. And had they even been aware of it, they would not 
have felt particularly encouraged to stand up against the Nazis, for 
Lang is so exclusively concerned with liighlighting the magic spell 
of Mabuse and Baum that his film mirrors their demoniac irresisti- 

^* Weinberg, "Fritz Lang," program to the film, ibid. 



bility rather than the inner superiority of their opponents. To be 
sure, Lohmann defeats Baum ; but Lohmann himself is left without 
any halo. Like his predecessor. Dr. Wenk, who defeated the criminals 
in Lang's first Mabuse fihn, he is a colorless official and as such 
unfit to represent a cause involving political issues. His victory lacks 
broad moral significance. As so often with Lang, the law triumphs 
and the lawless glitters. This anti-Nazi fihn betrays the power of 
Nazi spirit over minds insufficiently equipped to counter its peculiar 


The second major group of pre-Hitler films served as an outlet 
for the existing authoritarian tendencies. These films ignored the 
suffering masses and of course shunned any solution that recalled 
humanization, progress and democracy. Their sole concern was the 
individual. They usually glorified some potential or full-fledged 
rebel, without, however, neglecting the figures of the war hero and 
the omnipotent leader. Sometimes their main character amounted 
to a blend of all three. 

A subterranean affinity for the rebel theme shows even in films 
which, judging by their milieus or surface designs, seem remote from 
it. One of them was Deb Mobder Dimitri KLahamasoi'f (Kabama- 
zov, 1931), staged by the former Soviet film director Fedor Ozep.^ 

Indifferent to the pseudo-religious moods which had engendered 
the Kabamazov of 1920, this pre-Hitler film exploited the Dostoiev- 
sky novel for the sole purpose of dramatizing the story of Dimitri 
Karamazov. Fritz Kortner^s impetuous young Dimitri abruptly 
leaves his well-to-do bride to make love to Grushenka, a kept girl 
who plays with the idea of marrying his father. This senile old fool 
is so infatuated with Grushenka that he promises her a fortune if 
she complies. Dimitri in a fury sets out to kill him, but eventually 
shrinks from the murder. While he rushes in a troika back to Gru- 
shenka, the old Karamazov is murdered by his servant Smerdjakov 
(Fritz Rasp), a weird epileptic possessed with greed for the treasure 
his master hides behind an icon. No one yet knows about the crime 
when Grushenka decides to accept Dimitri as her permanent lover. 
After a turbulent night the happy hotspur spends with her and a 
licentious crowd in a sort of brothel, he is arrested on suspicion 
of having committed parricide. Even though Smerdjakov hangs 
himself, the court doubts Dimitri's innocence. They sentence him 
to Siberia. Grushenka, admirably portrayed by Aana Sten, accom- 
panies him. 

* Film Society Profframme, April 17, 1980.— Cf. p. 109. 




It was a story which had little in common with Dostoievsky or 
with Soviet mentality. Ozep seemed to sense it; for he refrained 
from using Russian "montage" methods, except, perhaps, for the 
magnificent troika episode in which he juxtaposed treetops and 
horse's hoofs in fast cutting so as to increase the impression of speed. 
But this had been done on the European screen before. On the whole, 
Karamazov is patterned after the German silent films. Inanimate 
objects assert themselves imperiously whenever human passions boil 
over. A shining clock with four revolving pendulums is the chief 
witness of that scene in which Dimitri reviles Grushenka for luring 
his father and somewhat later leaves her as her lover. The clock 
appears while he is still alone in the room, watches the two raging 
against each other and re-emerges at the moment of their first 

Made in the early days of sound, the fihn suffers from the stage 
habits of its actors who continually fall into declamation. But the 
visual part is not yet reduced to a mere accompaniment of the dia- 
logue, and at least in one instance Ozep combines sounds and pictures 
in a truly cinematic way. As Grushenka assures Dimitri of her love, 
both laugh and laugh in a fit of happiness and their laughter is so 
contagious that soon the whole brothel joins in. Before this uproar 
has completely died away, the close-up of a big chandelier fills the 
screen — ^a sea of whirling candle flames, anticipating the subsequent 
revelry with its shooting, dancing and singing. 

Stripped of its Russian apparel, Karamazov has all the traits of 
those street films which during the stabilized period reflected, after 
the manner of dreams, the longing for authoritarian rule. Dimitri 
is the rebellious son who, driven by his instincts, exchanges bourgeois 
security for life on the street. And Grushenka represents the prosti- 
tute who is a well of love in a world grown cold. The film would be 
nothing but a late street film if it were not for its finale which marks 
an important change of pattern. Although Asphalt and other old 
street films concluded with the promise of continued rebellion, their 
middle-class runaways eventually returned to the plush parlors from 
which they had sprung.^ At the end of Kakamazov, rebellion not 
only remains a hope, but is symbolized as a fact. Unlike his wavering 
predecessors, Dimitri, this bourgeois lover, goes on living with Gru- 
shenka, the prostitute, and his submission to an xmjust sentence is 
so far from being an act of resigned retreat that, conversely, it 

2 Cf. p. 159 f. 



indicates his determination once for all to turn his back upon the 
paternal world. He is a rebel for good. Since he is not the sole die- 
hard rebel to appear on the contemporary German screen, this varia- 
tion of the street fihns tends the more to show that the atmosphere 
of the pre-Hitler era was pregnant with the idea of rebellion. Char- 
acteristically, the spirit of violence which sweeps through the film 
materializes in Dimitri himself. 

Danton (1931 ) 5 a historical fihn by Hans Behrendt, also revived 
a theme of the early postwar years. This picture resembled All for a 
Woman, Buchowetski's Danton film of 1921, in its indifference to 
the French Revolution and its emphasis on the private life of the 
revolutionary leaders.® The pre-Hitler Robespierre is an arid, Jesuit- 
ical schemer who envies Danton's immense popularity and the broad 
scope of his uninhibited nature. Danton on his part has a sanguine 
temperament and is open-minded rather than doctrinaire. He liber- 
ates an imprisoned aristocrat and marries her; he overtly expresses 
his disgust of Robespierre's terror regime. His careless conduct 
offers his archenemy a welcome opportunity to arraign him for high 
treason. In the convention episode Kortner as Danton is at his best. 
With the skill of a bom demagogue he turns the tables on Robes- 
pierre, accusing him and Saint-Just of procedures bound to choke 
the Revolution in blood. Since the masses, first hostile to Danton, 
fiercely acclaim him at the end of his speech, Robespierre resorts to 
the expedient of having them removed by force of arms. "Long live 
liberty !" Danton shouts before his execution. 

In the course of the film this character undergoes an interesting 
metamorphosis. He begins as a genuine Jacobin who calls for, and 
obtains, the death of Louis XVI. Later, when France is invaded by 
the enemy, Danton turns patriot ; in his successful negotiations with 
the Duke of Koburg he promises to spare the life of Marie Antoin- 
ette if the invasion armies under the Duke's command effect a re- 
treat. It is' not his fault that Robespierre thwarts this agreement 
by sending the Queen to the guillotine. In addition, Danton, the 
patriot, reveals himself as a champion of humanity concerned not 
so mucli with the further pursuit of the Revolution as with freedom 
from any kind of oppression. His ardent opposition to Robespierre's 
dictatorship makes him appear the counterpart of Schiller's liberty- 
loving heroes. The revolutionary Jacobin grows into a noble rebel. 

8Cf.p. 60 f. 



As such Danton, it is true, sides with democracy against tyranny. 
But at the same time he is so patriotic and emotional that he strongly 
recalls those rebellious German idealists who, loathing Versailles and 
the Weimar Republic, were predestined to become Nazi sympathizers. 
This screen rebel is a paradoxical blend of a potential Hitlerite and 
a democratic fighter. Such a blend seemed to prove attractive; 
Danton is said to have been enthusiastically received on the occa- 
sion of its Berlin premiere.'* 

The rebel theme also loomed in Kurt Bemhardt's Der Mann 
DER DEN MoRD BERING (The Man Who Murdered, 1931). Made 
after a novel by Claude Farrere, this Terra-United Artists produc- 
tion dealt with a scandal in the diplomatic circles of Constantinople. 
The exotic scenery was beautiful, the treatment subtle, the action 
slow. A French attache — Conrad Veidt in one of his seducer roles — 
falls in love with Mary, the wife of an English lord, and after a 
while discovers that she is mistreated by her husband and his cousin, 
a domineering woman. In a tete-^-tete he suggests a divorce. Mary 
shrinks from the mere thought of it, for then she would have to give 
up her Kttle boy. After this exposition of her plight the drama takes 
its course : no sooner does the lord find out about Mary^s love affair 
with a charming and decadent Russian prince (Gregory Chmara) 
than he forces her to agree to the divorce she dreads so much. She 
screams in her despair and is overheard by the Frenchman who, 
as Mary's protector, has secretly followed her. Later the lord is 
found murdered. At the end, the French attache, conversing with 
the Turkish police minister, casually mentions that he himself is the 
man who did it. The Turk, too, is a man of the world. Intent on 
hushing up the unpleasant affair, he intimates that his visitor should 
return to Paris at his earliest convenience, and dismisses him with an 
understanding handshake. 

Despite its aloofness, this upper-crust story had a bearing on 
current attitudes. The "man who murdered" conmiits his crime in 
the conviction of righting a wrong brought about by the existing 
laws. They destroy the woman he loves and he cannot stand such an 
injustice. To be sure, as a diplomat this desperate lover is surrounded 
with a halo of extraterritoriality; but in taking the law into his 
own hands he nevertheless assumes the character of a rebel. The 
so-called "Fm^r-murderers" also deemed it their holy duty to rid 

* According to Magnus, "Danton," Variety, Feb. 1981 (?). 



themselves of their opponents by killing them. This analogy is not 
as far-fetched as it seems, for, like the German judges who never 
punished any of those murderous rebels, the Turkish police minister 
absolves the Frenchman and moreover expresses his sympathy for 

Here, as in other cases, the objection suggests itself that un- 
doubtedly neither the film-makers nor the German audiences were 
aware of such parallels. Yet these parallels exist, and that they 
passed unnoticed increases rather than invalidates their significance. 
The less an individual knows why he prefers one subject to another, 
the more one is safe in assuming that his choice has been determined 
by powerful tendencies below the dimension of consciousness. Any 
tendency of that kind asserts itself in the most remote ideas and 
perceptions, so that these necessarily reflect it, no matter what is 
dealt with or what on the surface appears to be said. Although Bern- 
hardt's film is exclusively concerned with love and crime among high- 
ranking dignitaries, it betrays a state of mind which favors rebels 
and conniving authorities. 

In the film credits for The Man Who Murdered, Carl Mayer 
is listed as the dramaturgic supervisor. Since his script for Sunrise 
(1927), Murnau's first Hollywood film, Mayer had on the whole 
confined himself to advisory work, as if unable, or unwilling, to cope 
with a period which ran against his inmost experiences and sensi- 
bilities. Mechanization had leveled aU deep emotions, collective in- 
terests had weakened the sense of individual values, aaad with the 
rising Nazi tide petty-bourgeois mentality more and more pervaded 
the atmosphere. Something like resignation may have driven him to 
collaborate in films which fell short of his own standards. 

Mayer joined Czinner and, first in Berlin, then in Paris, helped 
to prepare two films starring Bergner. In Ariane (1931), she por- 
trays a young Russian student who, posing as an experienced 
woman, captivates a man about town with a penchant for casual 
liaisons.** In Der traumende Mund (The Dreaming Mouth, 
1932), a picture reminiscent of her first film, Husbands or Lovers?, 
she wavers between passion for a famous violinist and devotion to 
her husband, and after having wavered long enough evades the 
dilemma by the old stratagem of drowning herself.® It was aU love 

« Bryher, 'TBerlln, AprU 1981," Close Up, June 1981, p. 181 ; synopsis in 
trierter Film^K'urier, 

^Pilm Society Prograrnme, Jan. 22, 1988; Weiss, "Elizabeth Bergner Again," 
Close Up, Dec. 1982, pp. 264-65. 



and psychology, and to make it seem still more so, music was called 
upon. Ariane listens to the Don Giovanni overture, and the famous 
violinist contributes part of Beethoven's violin concerto. 

That Mayer realized the questionable social implications of these 
films is highly improbable. In 1932, he went to London where he 
continued to serve as an adviser in documentary and theatrical films. 
A much-eherished project of his own was another city film, this time 
about London; but no one would produce his script. He died of 
cancer, in 1944!. 

Paul Rotha, Mayer's intimate friend, who more than anyone 
else understood and appreciated his unique merits, wrote to me 
about him: "To look at, he was like Beethoven, but with a more 
sensitive, a more fragile face. In comparison with his small body (he 
was about 5 ft. 2 ins.) his head seemed unnaturally big. He would 
stroll along — ^almost meandering — as if blown here and there by the 
wind. You never knew where you would meet him next. In little 
cafes in Soho, . . on a park bench, in a book shop. . . . He en- 
deared all people to him; his nurses during his ittness, barmen in 
pubs, caretakers. He had a habit — rare in cities — of saying *Good 
morning' to everyone, whether he knew them or not." ' This devotee 
of the big cities, who "first made the camera move for inherent script 
purposes," ^ was animated by Dickens' love of aimless vagabondage, 
his sympathetic concern with cobblestones and stray souls alike — 
the very impulses which prompt the camera itself into action. 

In Erich Waschneck's Acht Madels im Boot (Eight GmLs m 
A Boat, 1932), a film in the wake of Madchen m Uniform, the 
rebel motif asserted itself openly. Christa, a college girl, lives 
through a veritable nightmare because she is expecting a child. Her 
student lover's medical friend agrees to give her an abortion, but 
she is so appalled by the surgical atmosphere in his room that she 
runs away before he can even start. Since she dreads her unsuspect- 
ing father no less than the doctor, she escapes to the rowing club 
of which she is a member. There Hanna, a vigorous blonde, is coach- 
ing the girls under her command for a boat race. When after a 
heroic attempt to conceal her condition Christa finally confesses, the 
wjiole team glows with desire to shield the girl from her father. 

' Mr. Botha's letter to me, of Sept. 8, 1944. See also Rotha, "Carl Mayer, 1894^ 
1944," Documentary News Letter, no. 8, 1944, p. 89 j Rotha, "Ifs in the Script," World 
Film News, Sept. 1988, p. 205. 

« Mr. Rotha's letter to me, Sept. 8, 1944. 



Hanna calls on him, and there is a violent clash between the two 
generations. For the sake of a happy ending, the father straightens 
matters out. Informed by Hanna of his daughter's predicament, he 
appears at the club along with the student lover to fetch Christa 
home, and all the girls enjoy the prospect of a wedding.® 

The film, an average product ornamented by nice landscape 
shots, features not so much Christa as the militant Hanna. She is an 
outright rebel figure. When the father refuses to adopt her view of 
the case, she bluntly tells him that his stubbornness will force the 
club to take care of Christa and her future child. It is as if the club 
were a stronghold of the young in the hostile territory of the adults. 
Furious at Hanna's provocations, the father threatens her with the 
police ; whereupon she calls all fathers brutal tyrants. An offspring 
of the earlier Youth Movement, Hanna illustrates its ajQSnity with 
Nazi spirit [Ulus. 58]. Her idea of the club as Christa's guardian 
anticipates the repudiation of family bonds under Hitler ; moreover, 
her arrogance and sadism mark her as the prototype of an S.S. 
leader. To punish Christa for continually lagging behind, she 
orders her to jump off the diving board ten times; observing the 
girl's difficulties, she still insists that the order be carried out to the 
fuU. It is only after she has collapsed that the tortured Christa re- 
veals her secret to this redoubtable female. The implied marital 
solution obviously serves as a compromise with traditional ethics. 

The surge of pro-Nazi tendencies during the pre-Hitler period 
could not better be confirmed than by the increase and specific evo- 
lution of the mountain films. Dr. Arnold Fanck, the uncontested 
father of this species, continued along the lines he himself had de- 
veloped. Besides a pleasing comedy, Der weisse Rattsch (The 
White Frenzy, 1931), in which Leni Riefenstahl is initiated into 
the secrets of skiing, he made Sturme (jber dem Montbilanc (Ava- 
lanche, 1930), one of those half-monunaental, half -sentimental con- 
coctions of which he was master.^^ The film again pictures the 
horrors and beauties of the high mountains, this time with particular 
emphasis on majestic cloud displays. (That in the opening sequence 

^ Jahier, "42 Ans de Cindma," Le Bdle intelUotwl du OinSma, p. 70; Kalbus, 
Deutsche FUmkunst, II, 57-58; etc 

10 For Wbotb Feekzy, see **Der Weisse Rausch,'* FUmwelt, Dec 20, 1931, and 
"Weiss, "Sonne fiber dem Arlberg," Close Up, March 1982, pp. 69-60. For Avaiakche, 
sec Fanck, Stitrm Uber dem Montblanc, and Der Kampf mit dem Berge; Kalbus, 
Deutsche Filmhunst, II, 86-88; synopsis in lUustrierter FUm-Kwrier. Significantly, the 
film's original title was Vbee dek Wolkek ("Above the Qouds"). 



of the Nazi documentary Tbixtmps ov the Will, of 1936, similar 
cloud masses surround Hitler's airplane on its flight to Nuremberg, 
reveals the ultimate fusion of the mountain cult and the Hitler cult 
[lUus. 59 and 60].) Impressive sound effects supplement the mag- 
nificent photography: fragments of Bach and Beethoven from an 
abandoned radio on Mont Blanc intermittently penetrate the roaring 
storm, making the dark altitudes seem more aloof and inhuman. 
For the rest, Avalanche duplicates The White Hell of Pitz 
Palu in reiterating Ernst Udet's stunt flights, diverse elemental 
catastrophes and the inevitable rescue party. The man to be rescued 
in this case is a young Mont Blanc meteorologist threatened with 
freezing to death in his storm-wrecked observatory on the peak. But 
why, then, does he stay up there over Easter instead of joining the 
girl he secretly loves in the valleys? Because his best friend, a Berlin 
musician, has sent him a letter which clearly indicates that he, too, 
adores this girl. The letter suffices to make the meteorologist give up 
his love. He does not think of asking the girl how she hersdf feels 
about him ; full of self-pity and noble sentiments, he leaves her to his 
friend. May they be happy ! His own lot is to remain above the clouds 
and all mortals. And there he would have died were it not for the 
girl, alias Leni Riefenstahl, who, mountain-possessed as ever, loves 
this hero on Mont Blanc and braves all dangers to save him. An 
American reviewer called the plot *VoefuIly inadequate." As a 
matter of fact, it follows a typically German pattern, its main char- 
acter being the perpetual adolescent well-known from many previous 
films. The psychological consequences of such retrogressive behavior 
need no further elaboration. 

In the course of the pre-Hitler years, Leni Riefenstahl embarked 
upon a career of her own. She directed Das blatte Light (The 
Blue Lioht, 1982) , cooperatively produced by her, B61a BaUzs, 
and the photographer Hans Schneeberger. The film is based on an 
old legend of the Italian Dolomites. On nights when the moon is 
f uE, the peak of Mount Cristallo radiates a marvelous blue light that 
lures all the young villagers to it. Even though their parents try to 
keep them home behind closed window shutters, they are drawn away 
like somnambulists and faU to death among the rocks. Only Junta 
(Leni Riefenstahl) , a sort of gypsy girl, is said to reach the light 
safely and is therefore considered a witch [Dlus. 62]. The super- 

" Cf. p. 290. 

Boehnel, "Avalanche," iV<ic York World Telegram, March 25, 1982. 



stitious village people insult the girl and throw stones at her when- 
ever she comes down from her cabin high in the mountains. A young 
Viennese painter staying for a day or so in the village witnesses 
such a scene and feels so attracted by Junta that he goes to live 
with her in her mountain refuge. One night, she leaves him and 
climbs the moon-lit cliffs of Mount CristaUo. Secretly following her 
to the peak, the painter discovers that the mysterious blue light 
emanates from a stretch of precious crystals. He enlightens the 
villagers, who under his guidance remove the treasure, now turned 
from a source of fright into a promise of wealth. Next full moon, 
Junta, unsuspecting, resumes her ascent ; but since the blue light is 
gone, she misses her way and falls down a precipice. The painter, 
too late to rescue her, bends over the shining face of the dead girl.^^ 
Beautiful outdoor shots stress the insoluble ties between primitive 
people and their natural surroundings. The statues of saints are 
carved in a rock by the road; the mute Dolomites partake of the 
life in the village. Close-ups of genuine peasant faces thread through 
the whole of the film; these faces resemble landscapes molded by 
nature itself, and in rendering them, the camera achieves a fas- 
cinating study in facial folklore. While the peasants are merely 
related to the soil. Junta is a true incarnation of elanental powers, 
strikingly confirmed as such by the circmnstances of her death. She 
dies when sober reasoning has explained, and thus destroyed, the 
legend of the blue light. With the glow of the crystals her very soul 
is taken away. Like the meteorologist in Avalanche, this mountain 
girl conforms to a political regime which relies on intuition, worships 
nature and cultivates myths. To be sure, at the end the village re- 
joices in its fortune and the myth seems defeated, but this rational 
solution is treated in such a summary way that it enhances rather 
than reduces Junta's significance. What remains is nostalgia for her 
realm and sadness over a disenchanted world in which the miraculous 
becomes merchandise. 

Luis Trenker, the model mountaineer of The Holy Mountain, 
also emancipated himself from Fanck, He enacted the main charac- 
ters of two films made from his own scripts and staged by him in 
collaboration with experienced directors. These pictures are particu- 
larly important: they mark the junction of the mountain films and 

"Kalbus, Dmtache Filmkunst, II, 66-66 j Weiss, *The Blue Light," Close Up, 
June 1982, pp. 119-22. 



the national films. In them, the political implications of Avalanche 
and The Blue Light appear as overt themes. 

The first of the two was Berge in Flammen (The Doomed 
Battalion, 1931), much praised for Sepp Allgeier's brilliant cam- 
erawork. It dealt with an isolated combat episode of World War I 
set against the snow peaks of the Austrian Tyrol. A mountain top 
is held by an Austrian battalion, and since it proves inaccessible to 
direct attacks, the Italians below start drilling a tunnel into the 
rocks so as to dynamite this position. While the Austrians, unable 
to forestall the enemy action, listen helplessly to the ominous tapping 
in the mountain, one of their officers (Trenker) goes on a daredevil 
ski patrol down to his native village, which serves the Italians as 
headquarters. There he learns the date set for the explosion and 
returns in time to warn his comrades. His exploit enables the 
"doomed battalion" to evacuate the position just before it is blown 
into the air.^* 

Whereas Pabst's Westeront 1918 accumulates war horrors to 
advance pacifism, the Trenker war film devotes itself to the praise 
of martial virtues. War in The Doomed Battalion is nothing but 
a background for a mountain climber who seems to fulfill his natural 
destiny by turning war hero. Both the pacifist and the heroic film 
disregard the causes of World War I; but, unlike Pabst, Trenker is 
justified in ignoring them, for he glorifies the ideal soldier, and 
soldiers are not supposed to encroach upon politics. The image of 
the war hero is completed by two sequences framing the combat 
episode proper. In the opening sequence, the Austrian officer and the 
Italian commander, his future antagonist, are seen together on a 
mountain excursion immediately before the outbreak of hostilities — 
two frienSs elevated above nationalistic prejudices; in the finale, 
the ex-enemies resume their old friendship a few years after the war. 

In emphasizing this survival of personal bonds, the Trenker film 
defies chauvinism even more energetically than did such fihns as The 
Emden and U-9 Weddigen.^** Yet while they were ajffected by the 
paralysis of minds during the stabilized period, The Doomed Bat- 
talion reflects the surge of national passions bound to result in war. 
How is its antichauvinistic attitude compatible with its inherent 
nationalism? This attitude makes wars appear as superindividual 

^* Cf. reviews in Neto York Herald Tribune and New Tork Post, both of June 11, 
1982, Museum of Modern Art Library, clipping files. See also Kalbus, Deuteche FiVmr 
kwetat, II, 88, and Arnheim, Fiha also Kwiat, p, 21S, 

" Cf. p. 155 f. 



events which have to be accepted, whether we sanction or condemn 
them. Considered thus as products of inscrutable fate, there is no 
danger that anotional fervor in their interest may yield to doubt. 
Friendship between soldiers of different countries in the lulls of peace 
does not weaken the friends' determination to fight each other in 
wartime ; rather, it ennobles this fight, transforming it into a tragic 
duty, a superior sacrifice. Trenker's mountain climber is the type of 
man on whom regimes in need of war can rely. 

The second Trenker film was Der Resell (The Rebel), a 
German-made Universal production released as late as January 17, 
1933. It again was concerned with a war episode, this time drawn 
from the Tyrol's revolt against the Napoleonic occupation army. A 
Tyrolese student (Trenker) returning home finds his native viUage 
plundered and his mother and sister killed. After killing a French 
ofilcer in retaliation,* he goes underground and helps to organize the 
resistance. Simultaneously, he continues his romance with a Bavarian 
girl (Vilma Banky) who shields him from the occupation authorities 
and even does a bit of spying for him. The student profits by her 
information. Disguised as a Bavarian officer, he attends a ball given 
by the French at Innsbruck and there gathers sufficient intelligence 
to prepare a gigantic trap for Napoleon's legions. While this indoor 
episode and the amorous interlude are not particularly stirring, the 
sequence which shows how the trap is sprung can hardly be sur- 
passed in violent realism. The Tyrolese peasants, hidden high in the 
mountains, let loose masses of rocks and tree trunks on the French 
troops passing along the road below. It is an elaborate, roaring 
wholesale slaughter, with the mountains as the allies of the rebels. 
Of course, at the end the French win out and the student is shot.^® 

With Trenker, the rebel enters upon the final stage of a screen 
career inseparable from the evolution of the German cinema [Dlus. 
61]. A definite historic role is assigned to him: he leads, or takes 
part in, the people's rebellion against an enemy that subjugates the 
nation. This reveals him to be a nationalist rather than a revolu- 
tionary. The analogy between the Tyrol's revolt and the Nazi move- 
ment is obvious; Trenker in his film only reflects what the Nazis 
themselves called a national uprising. Napoleon stands for the hated 
"system" and the student hAs the traits of a Hitlerite. Here it be- 
comes clear why during the pre-Hitler years the German film rebel 

"Kalbufl, Deutsche FOmkumt, II, 66-67; review in New York Post, July 28, 



no longer conformed to the old pattern which had invariably led 
him from rebellion to submission. Now that the Nazis prepared for 
the ultimate assault upon the crumbling Republic, he, too, was bound 
to embody the idea of rebellion. This idea excludes surrender, even 
though it does not preclude defeat. Such pre-Hitler figures as 
Dimitri Karamazov and Danton therefore fight it out to the last. It 
was the hour of decision, and the plush parlors of the past lay far 

There is pictorial evidence that the Trenker film was nothing 
but a thinly masked pro-Nazi film. Photographed by Sepp Allgeier,^^ 
it introduced symbols which were to play a prominent part on the 
early Hitler screen. To enhance national passion, elaborate use is 
made of close-ups of flags, a device conrnaon with the Nazis. In the 
visionary concluding sequence, the resurrected student, who along 
with two other rebel leaders has been executed by the French, moves 
onwards, a flag in his hands. "The squad fired, and the rebels . . . 
were seen, fallen sprawling in the dust. But now the sound of a patri- 
otic song was faintly heard, ghostly figures of the three men rose 
from their prostrate bodies and, valiantly singing their song, 
marched at the head of the peasant forces, ascending along the 
rim of a distant cloud, until finallyj as the song swelled to its con- 
clusion, they disappeared into the skies." ^® 

This apotheosis of rebellious ardor is all but duplicated in Hit- 
iiERJUNGE QuEX (September 1933; camera: Konstantin Tschet), 
a Nazi propaganda film which features the Nazis' eleventh-hour 
struggle for power, resounding with their *^outh Song" : "Our flag 
billows before us 1 . . In the film's finale, the militant Hitler boy 
Heini, surnamed Quex, distributes leaflets in one of Berlin's pro- 
letarian quarters and there is stabbed by a communist. Abandoned, 
he lies on a dark street. "The Nazis come and find Heini dying. His 
last words are, 'Our flag billows before . . .' The sound track takes 
up the Youth Song and the flag appears on the screen, giving place 
to marching columns of Hitler Youth." Through similar images 

" Cf. Erikson, "Hitler's Imagery," Psychiatry, Nov. 194,2, p. 480. 

1® A few years later, Allgeier collaborated as chief cameraman in Thiumph op 
THE Wnx, which, as has been pointed out above, reverted to the cloud effects of his 
Avalanche. According to Leni Riefenstahl, this collaboration meant **more than 
only an artistic task" to him. Cf. Riefenstahl, Sinter den KuUssen des Beichspar- 
teitag-Films, p. 16. 

Quoted from Spottiswoode, A Grammar of the Film, pp. 228-29. See also Iros, 
Wesen und Brwmaturgie des Films, p. 848. 

«o Quoted from Bateson, **Cultural and Thematic Analysis of Fictional Films," 
Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, Feb. 1948, p. 76. 

both the Trenker fihn and the Nazi fihn point at the imminent tri- 
umph of national rebellions — a coincidence which strikingly con- 
firms the identical nature of the rebellions themselves. 

The national fihns of the pre-Hitler period surpassed those of 
the stabilized period in number and significance. Like The Rebel, 
the bulk of them drew upon the Napoleonic era to substantiate the 
idea of a national uprising, Prussia vs. Napoleon was their central 
theme, and Prussia invariably appeared as the protagonist of the 
united German nation. On the whole, these fihns constituted a sort 
of national epic, fabricated for domestic mass consumption. 

The epic dwelt upon Prussia's humiliation, with a view to her 
future redemption. Kurt Bernhardt, Trenker's collaborator in The 
Rebel, made Die letzte Kompagnie (The Last Company, 1930), 
an Ufa film detailing a combat episode of Napoleon's Prussian cam- 
paign. A captain and twelve men engage in a hopeless rear-guard 
action against the advancing French so as to cover the retreat of the 
defeated Prussian army across the river Saale. They all are killed. 
After conquering the position, the French salute their dead enemies, 
whose bravery has succeeded in relieving the rest of the Prussians. 
The film breathed the same spirit as The Doomed Battalion. 
Rudolf Meinert's Dee elp Schill'schen Opfiziere (1932), a sound 
version of his silent fihn of 1926, depicted the doom of Prussian 
ofiicers shot by order of the French for having participated in 
Schill's premature revolt. Gerhard Lamprecht in his Der schwabze 
HusAR (Black Hussar, 1932; Ufa) chose to render the rebeUious 
mood of French-occupied Prussia in the form of a comedy. For 
reasons of state Napoleon orders a princess of Baden to marry a 
Polish prince. But Veidt as an officer of the Black Hussars, an out- 
lawed Prussian regiment, plays a trick on the Emperor: he kidnaps 
the princess as she travels eastward, saving her from the unwanted 

Representative of the whole series was Carl Froelich's LtriSE, 
KoNiGiN VON Prettssen (Luise, Qxjeen op Prussia, 1931), pro- 
duced by Henny Porten, who also enacted the unhappy Queen. This 
decorative historical panorama, which culminated in the famous 
meeting of Luise and Napoleon, abounded with allusions to Ver- 

21 For The Last Compakt, see synopsis in IlhtstrierUr Film-Kurier and Kalbus, 
DeiiUche Pilmkwnst, II, 15; for Black Hussae, Kalbus, ibid., p. 44; for Die elf 
Schill'schen OiTiziBBE, Kalbus, ibid., p. 77, See also diverse New York reviews of 
the first two films. 



sailles and the actual Gennan situation. Two reviews in the New 
York Herald Trthwrie not only mentioned the film's "grim frown in 
the direction of the Third French Republic" and its "insistence on 
the brotherhood of all Germans," but went so far as to advance an 
outright suspicion: "The Emperor, the fibn reminds you with par- 
ticular pointedness, once robbed Germany of the Baltic port of 
Danzig and set it up as a free city, and when you recall how the 
Polish corridor rankles at the moment, it is difficult to believe that 
the photoplay . . . only recalls the historical precedent by acci- 
dent." Whether accidentally or not, the fikn popularized the poli- 
tical claims of the Hitler-Hugenberg front and, by implication, fore- 
told a victorious rebellion. 

Concentrating upon the theme of rebellion itself, Gustav Ucicky's 
Ufa production York (1931) featured a personal union of war hero 
and rebel. While Napoleon is engaged in his Russian campaign. King 
Frederick Wilhelm III of Prussia, in strict observance of his treaty 
with the Emperor, puts a Prussian army corps at the disposal of the 
French high conunand. He orders General von York (Werner 
Krauss), the preceptor of Prussia's new citizens' army, to take 
charge of this corps. York is the prototype of a Prussian soldier, 
imbued with a sense of duty and utterly devoted to his King. He 
obeys and joins the French in Kurland, even though his restive young 
officers implore him to turn the tables on their allies. The crisis in the 
Prussian camp reaches its climax as soon as the news of Napoleon's 
Russian defeat leaks out. But York still refuses to break his alle- 
giance to the King. Only when this weakling proves deaf to his 
patriotic arguments does he cross the Rubicon. York, the rebel, signs 
the Convention of Tauroggen with the Russians. The War of Libera- 
tion against Napoleon commences. 

This film about the Prussian military caste discriminates be- 
tween two types of soldier rebels. The emotional young officers are 
of much the same kind as those ^^demi-soldes** who after World War I 
filled the cadres of the notorious Freikorps and somewhat later 
formed the nucleus of the Nazi movment. But during the pre-Hitler 
period topical interest lay not so much in their well-known affiliations 
as in possible reactions of the army High Command. York is 
symptomatic of this clique. He turns rebel when it becomes apparent 
that Napoleon is on the decline and that therefore any further loy- 

a» Quated from Watts, **Ltilse, Queen of Prussia," New Torh Herald Tribune, 
Oct 6, 1982.— In Grune's silent Luise film, of 1927, Mady Christians had played the 



alty to him might prove disastrous to Prussia. His decision, unham- 
pered by sentimental impulses, springs from his exclusive concern 
with Prussia's grandeur. "York was a soldier," as the program to the 
jSlm puts it, "who rebelled against his King for the sake of his 
King." Nothing could be more to the point; for in the eyes of the 
military tribe national power politics served the true interests of the 
King. There is no doubt that the case of this illustrious soldier was 
intended to demonstrate the historic legitimacy of an alliance be- 
tween the Reichswehr and the rebellious forces represented by Hitler 
and Hugenberg. In idealizing York of all generals, Hugenberg's 
Ufa clearly suggested that such an alliance would be for the sake of 
the "King," the King now being Hindenburg as the symbol of 

In York and other pre-Hitler films, unyielding rebels defy the 
submissive conduct of their nimierous screen predecessors so reso- 
lutely that they might almost be mistaken for champions of indi- 
vidual freedom. Trenck, a Phoebus production of 1932, nips this 
misconception in the bud. Made after a novel by the late German 
refugee-writer Bruno Frank, the film belonged to the Fridericus 
series. For even though Frederick the Great remained too much in 
the background to be played by his usual impersonator, Otto Gebiihr, 
he was the true center of the action, which concerns the abortive love 
affair between his sister Amalie and Trenck, his aide-de-camp. Both 
dare oppose him. When Frederick tells Amalie that he wishes her to 
marry the Swedish Crown Prince, she retorts with the question: "And 
my happiness?" Frederick answers that as the daughter of a King 
of Prussia she has to suppress such thoughts. Angry at Amalie's 
insubordination, he once and for all forestalls her aspirations to hap- 
piness by making her the abbess of a provincial convent. 

Trenck on his part is portrayed as an unruly character who, 
violating the King's express orders, goes on a dangerous patrol 
during the war. Later, he escapes from the fortress in which he has 
been put for his disobedience, and after sundry adventures in Austria 
settles down at the Russian court as the declared favorite of the 
Empress. The film emphasizes that he never commits any treacherous 

33 Quoted from Watts, •'York," New York Herald THbiMte, Nov. 4, 1982. 

3* The War of Liberation Itself, which seemed rather remote at a time stiU pre- 
occupied with Hitler's ascent, was treated in Theodor Korxer (1982), a mediocre 
screen biography of this patriotic soldier-poet, who joined LuetzoVs corps of volun- 
teers and died in action at the age of 22. 



action against his King. Yet the King considers him a deserter, and 
as Trenck is careless enough to pay a visit to Danzig, he is arrested 
there by Frederick's henchmen. They bring their captive back to 
Prussia, imprisoning him in the dungeon of Magdeburg. In vain 
Amalie entreats the King to show mercy. Only after endless years is 
Trenck released; but he has to leave Prussia forever. Time passes 
and the King dies. His successor permits the old, broken exile to 
return home,^*^ 

A few changes in the distribution of lights and shadows, and the 
steadfast Amalie as well as Trenck, so hungry for freedom, might 
have transformed themselves into heroic rebels engaged in breaking 
Frederick's ruthless tyranny. In fact, they are potential rebels. But 
far from acknowledging these unhappy lovers as such, the film strips 
them of their moral significance, bestowing all glamour on the King. 
Amalie is stigmatized for preferring her private happiness to her 
sacred duty, and Trenck is made to appear an erratic soldier of 
fortune. Authoritarian mentality, eager to glorify the rebel when he 
fights for national liberation, thus distorts and soils his image when 
he offends the sovereignty of the "King" in the interest of individual 

The ideal rebel has to submit to authoritarian rule. Trenck him- 
self is shown surrendering, although he is never recognized as a true 
rebel. Back in Prussia, he goes to see Amalie — a. late and sad tete-k- 
tete after a separation of thirty years. Since the King has destroyed 
their love and happiness, one might expect Trenck to answer in the 
affirmative Amalie's question as to whether he hates Frederick. His 
answer consists in handing to her the manuscript of his memoirs. A 
close-up, marking the end of the film, impresses upon the audience 
Trenck's dedication. The words read: "To the Spirit of Frederick 
the Unique, King of Prussia, my Life." This unfathomable surrender 
corroborates the meaning of York's rebellion and moreover intimates 
that the other rebels of the pre-Hitler screen are also intrinsically 
authoritarian-minded. In the last analysis, the philistine of The 
Street is the archetype of all German fihn rebels. Reincarnated in 
Trenck, he finally meets the Frederick of his dreams, who redeems 
him from the horrors of the plush parlor. 

An elaborate image of the inspired leader supplemented that of 
the rebel. Besides Trenck, three full-fledged Fridericus films, all of 

3» Kalbus, DeutscJie Fihnkunst, II, 74; synopsis In Illustrierter PUmr-Kurier; etc 



them starring Otto Gebiihr, featured Frederick as such a leader: 
Gustav Ucicky's Das Flotenkonzert von Sanssouci (The Flute 
Concert at Sans Sotjci, 1930) ; Friedrich Zekuk's Barberina, die 
Tanzerin von Sanssouci (The King's Dancer, 1932) ; and Der 
Choral von Leuthen (The Anthem of Letjthen, March 7, 
1933), produced and staged by Carl Froelich m collaboration with 
A. von Cser^py, the creator of the first Fridericus film. The series 
continued under Hitler. Fridericus, drawn from a novel by Walter 
von Molo and released in the early days of the Nazi regime, focused 
upon the King of the Seven Years' War — & King who, if possible, 
surpassed all previous Fredericks in his resemblance to Hitler. Artis- 
tically on an average level, these pictures with their propagandistic 
implications found little understanding abroad. An American re- 
viewer called The King's Dancer a "fine German costimie piece" 
in an obvious attempt at indulgence.^^ 

On the whole, the new Fridericus films harped on the motifs of 
the old ones and, like them, overflowed with rationalizations of retro- 
gressive behavior. But what once were unsubstantiated desires de- 
veloped into topical allusions. Frederick's aggressive power politics, 
itself a compensation for retrogression, appears as a sustained de- 
fense action against an overwhelming enemy conspiracy. Interesting 
in this respect is the introductory caption of Fridericus, which 
anticipates the official language of such Nazi war films as Baptism 
OF Fire and Victory in the West all down the line: "Encircled by 
the hereditary Great Powers of Europe, rising Prussia has aspired 
for decades to her right to live. The whole world is amazed at the 
King of Prussia who, first ridiculed, then feared, has maintained 
himself against forces many times superior to his own. Now they 
seem to crush him. Prussia's fateful hour has come." After such 
apologetic remarks, found in every Fridericus film, the expected vic- 
tories and parades pour down with a rapidity certain to delight the 

The endeavor to rationalize feelings of inferiority was particu- 
larly strong. All Fridericus films confront Prussia's poverty and 
rudeness with the wealth and polished manners of her enemies, and 
in doing so persistently deprecate the latter. The Austrians continue 

Quoted from "Barberina," Variety, Nov. 1, 1982. For Tax Flute CoNCEaT at 
Sa»8 Sotrci, see Kalbus, Deutsche Fihnkvnstf II, 72-78, and program to the filmj for 
The Kiisro's Pa»"ceb, Kalbus, ibid,, p. 74f, and program to the flhn; for The Ajtthem 
OF Leuthem", Kalbus, ibid,, p. 75, and lUustrierter FUm-Kwrier; for Fbij3ebicu8, 
lUustrierter Film^Kurier. Sec also the New York reviews of these films. 



in their role of effeminate operetta figures ; one of them, a colonel, 
excels in pleasing love songs (Anthem op Leuthen). The French, 
in turn, are represented as bom courtiers, fond of intrigues and 
puns. Who could envy these people? It is the case of Prussia-Ger- 
many against the Western Powers ; of the "have-nots" against the 
plutocracies ; of what in Germany is called culture against a rotten 
civilization. Compared with their enemies, these films imply, the 
Germans have all the traits of a master race entitled to take over 
Europe and tomorrow the world. 

The whole series was a thorough attempt to familiarize the masses 
with the idea of a Fuhrer. None other than Voltaire is called upon to 
recommend him. When, in Trenck, Frederick advocates sovereignty 
of the law, Voltaire replies that good sovereigns are preferable to 
good laws — enlightened reason paying homage to the absolute ruler. 
The King justifies this flattering opinion by playing, as before, the 
part of the people's father. His patriarchal regime is a mixture of 
old-Prussian feudalism and Nazi sham socialism. He promises op- 
pressed farmers to punish the Governor of their province for par- 
tially favoring the big-estate owners (Trenck) ; he cancels all vic- 
tory celebrations, urging that the money provided for them be given 
to the war victims (King's Dancer) ; he thinks of allotting funds 
for cultural purposes on the eve of a decisive battle (Anthem of 
Leuthen) . Everybody will have to admit that the security Fred- 
erick's subjects enjoy is inaccessible to the citizens of a democracy, 
for in his protective zeal the King generously helps lovers (King's 
Dancer) and even goes so far as to prevent the wife of an absent 
major from committing adultery (Flute Concert) . 

This model King is a veritable genius. As such he succeeds in 
thwarting conspiracies, outwitting slick diplomats, and winning 
battles where all the chances are against him. In The Flute Con- 
cert AT Sans Souci, he secretly issues mobilization orders to his 
generals during a flute concert attended by the unsuspecting am- 
bassadors of Austria, France and Russia, thus stealing a march on 
these three powers which, he knows, are all set to attack Prussia. 
In The King's Dancer, he invites Barberina to Berlin, so as to make 
his enemies believe that he whiles his time away with a flirtation. The 
Anthem of Leuthen reveals the relations between this genius and 
plain mortals. When the King decides to venture upon a battle near 
Leuthen, his devoted old generals fiercely advise against it in view of 
their desperate situation. Of course the battle is won, and the moral 



is that the "intuitions" of a genuine Fiihrer prove superior to normal 
reasoning — a moral well established in German hearts until Stalin- 
grad. Always right in the end, the inspired King is surrounded with 
a dense aura. Both The King's Dancer and The Anthem of 
Leuthen capitalize on the authenticated episode of his sudden ap- 
pearance at Austrian headquarters on the occasion of one of his 
dashing reconnoitering rides: the Austrians are so spellbound by 
their legendary enemy that they forget to capture him, and when 
they come to their senses, relief arrives in the form of a Prussian 

The reverse of the leader's grandeur is his tragic solitude, played 
up in all Fridericus films [lUus. 63]. No one is able to understand 
Frederick, and amidst cheering crowds he misses the sense of warmth 
and nearness which any lover enjoys. At the end of The King's 
Dancer, "you see the great king, who has graciously turned Bar- 
berina over to her lover, walk to the window of his palace to greet 
his people, and you leave him, standing there, a lonely, unhappy old 
man." It has been pointed out in earlier contexts that this insist- 
ence upon the Fiihrer' s loneliness meets the needs of a juvenile 

On February 2, 1933, one day after Hitler had been appointed 
Chancellor of the Reich, Ufa released Morgenrot (Dawn), a film 
about a submarine during World War I. Gustav Ucicky, a specialist 
in nationalistic productions, directed this fihn from a script by 
Gerhard Menzel, winner of a high literary award (Kleistpreis) . The 
composer was Herbert Windt, who in the years to come did the scores 
of many important Nazi films. "At the Berlin first night," Variety's 
Berlin correspondent reported on the premiere of Morgenrot, "the 
new Cabinet with Hitler, Dr. Hugenberg and Papen, were present. 
. . . The picture was received with tremendous applause. . . 

The film is a mingling of war exploits and sentimental conflicts. 
Liers, the sub commander (Rudolf Forster), and his first lieutenant, 
Fredericks, are on home leave in their small native town, and as they 
depart it becomes apparent that both have fallen in love with the 
same girl. Then the submarine is seen in action, torpedoing and sink- 
ing a British cruiser. After this victory, Liers for the first time opens 

aT Quoted from Watts, "The King's Dancer," New York Berald Tribune, Oct 2T, 

a» "Morgenrot," Variety, Feb. 28, 1988. 



his heart to Fredericks who, without showing how much he suiFers, 
tacitly realizes that the girl he loves feels more attached to Liers than 
to himself. In pursuit of its mission, the submarine challenges a 
seemingly neutral vessel which, however, reveals itself as a British 
decoy boat. Signaled by the decoy, a British destroyer rams the sub. 
A crucial problem arises, for in the sinking huU ten men are left alive 
with only eight divers' suits available. Two shots solve the problem: 
Fredericks and another crew member, grieved for reasons of his own, 
commit suicide to save their comrades. The final sequence resumes 
the theme of home leave. Liers again departs from his native town, 
and the war goes on. 

The American reviews not only praised this film for its brilliant 
acting and its abundance of realistic battle details, but showed them- 
selves very impressed by its absence of any hatred.^ In fact, Liers' 
mother, who has already lost two sons in the war, is singularly lack- 
ing in patriotic ardor, and the submarine crew reacts to the British 
ruse of a decoy without the slightest animosity. Dawn is no Nazi 
film. Rather, it belongs to the series of such war films as The 
Last Company and The Doomed Battai^ion which precisely 
through their impartiality elevate war to the rank of an unquestion- 
able institution.^^ 

That Hitler saw Dawn at the dawn of his own regime is a strange 
coincidence. He might have enjoyed this film with its smell of real 
war as a lucky omen, a providential sanction of what he himself 
planned to bring about [Dlus. 64]. Moreover, it told him unmis- 
takably that Liers and his kind, even should they fail to become his 
partisans, were predestined to become his tools. Liers, a conservative- 
minded professional soldier, says to his mother: "Perhaps we Ger- 
mans do not know how to live, but how to die, this we know incredibly 
well.'' ®^ His words frankly acknowledge the process of retrogression 
reflected by the German screen throughout its whole development. 
The desire to mature, they admit in a scarcely veiled manner, has 
faded away, and the nostalgia for the womb is so definite that it 
stiffens to pride in dying a good death. People such as Liers were 
indeed bound to submit to the Filhrer. 

**Cf. Barrett, *'Morgenrot,*' N'atioTw.l Board of Review Maffozine, June 1988, 
pp. 10-12, 15; Tazelaar, "Morgenrot," New York Herald Tribune, May 19, 19885 
Boclmel, "Jforgenrot," New York World Telegram, May 17, 1988. 

a similar vein was Emelka's KiaEtrzER Emdeist (CEuiata Escdest, 1982), 
a sound version of Tsa Emden of 1926. 

»^ Quoted by Kalbus, DeuUche Filmkurut, II, 82. 



Comparison of the two major groups of pre-Hitler films reveals 
that in the conflict of antiauthoritarian and authoritarian disposi- 
tions, the odds are against the former. To be sure, the fikns of the 
first group are, in part, on a high artistic level, and no matter 
whether they indulge in pacifism or socialism, they all turn against 
the tyranny of authoritarian rule. But these films are only loosely 
connected with each other and, much more important, they fail to 
carry power of conviction. In Madchen m Uniform, Fraulein von 
Bernburg does not succeed in radically defeating the disciplinarian 
headmistress ; Hell on Earth with its emphasis on international 
fraternization is thoroughly evasive; Comradeship spreads Social 
Democratic ideals in a way that testifies to their actual exhaustion. 

Unlike this first major group, the second consists of films which, 
except for a few scattered products, are closely interrelated. They 
belong together ; they concur in establishing a national epic which 
centers round the rebel and is dominated by the figure of an inspired 
Filhrer. In addition, the story these films tell resists criticism from 
within. While the pacifist message of Pabst's Westpront 1918 
sounds unconvincing because of its complete disregard of the diverse 
causes of war, the war heroism in Trenker's Doomed Battalion is 
not a credo that has to be substantiated but an attitude that simply 
exists. One may condemn it for well-founded external reasons, but 
one cannot hope to analyze away its reality or possible appeal. The 
fact that all films of the second group are internally invulnerable 
and allied in a common effort indicates the superior weight of their 
imderlying authoritarian tendencies. The power of these tendencies 
is confirmed by the fusion of the mountain films and the national 
films which could take place only under the pressure of irresistible 

Considering the widespread ideological opposition to Hitler, 
there is no doubt that the preponderance of authoritarian leanings 
was a decisive factor in his favor. Broad strata of the population, 
including part of the intelligentsia, were psychologically predisposed 
to the kind of system Hitler offered ; so much so that their craving for 
it made them overlook their welfare, their chance of survival. During 
those years, many an unbiased observer warned white-coUar workers 
and employers alike against the Nazis, holding that in its own eco- 
nomic interest the middle class would do better to associate itself with 
the Social Democrats. History has corroborated this warning. In the 
spring of 1943, Das Schzmrze Korps, the oflicial S.S. organ, bluntly 



proclaimed that "the middle class is dead and should not rise again 
after the war." And yet this very middle class formed the back- 
bone of the Hitler movement. The impact of pro-Nazi dispositions 
seemed to upset all sober considerations. 

A further symptom of the essential role of these dispositions is 
the magic spell that the Nazi spirit cast over youth and the unem- 
ployed — ^two groups which because of their remoteness from fixed 
class interests were particularly sensitive to a propaganda appealing 
to their longings for totalitarian leadership. Hitler, if anyone, knew 
how to play upon such longings. Finally, it can be assumed that the 
discrepancy between these ever-smoldering desires and the political 
convictions of the Weimar parties contributed much to the collapse 
of the "system." The catholic Center as well as the Social Democrats 
was increasingly drained of its vital energies. It was as if they were 
both paralyzed. The tenets they advocated lacked the support of 
strong emotions, and in the end their will for power degenerated 
into impotent formal scruples. 

Irretrievably sunk into retrogression, the bulk of the German 
people could not help submitting to Hitler. Since Germany thus car- 
ried out what had been anticipated by her cinema from its very begin- 
ning, conspicuous screen characters now came true in life itself. Per- 
sonified daydreams of minds to whom freedom meant a fatal shock, 
and adolescence a permanent temptation, these figures filled the 
arena of Nazi Germany. Homunculus walked about in the flesh. Self- 
appointed Caligaris hypnotized innumerable Cesares into murder. 
Raving Mabuses committed fantastic crimes with impunity, and mad 
Ivans devised unheard-of tortures. Along with this unholy proces- 
sion, many motifs known from the screen turned into actual events. 
In Nuremberg, the ornamental pattern of NiBELUNaEN appeared on 
a gigantic scale: an ocean of flags and people artistically arranged. 
Souls were thoroughly manipulated so as to create the impression 
that the heart mediated between brain and hand. By day and night, 
millions of feet were marching over city streets and along highways. 
The blare of military bugles sounded unremittingly, and the philis- 
tines from the plush parlors felt very elated. Battles roared and 
victory followed victory. It all was as it had been on the screen. 
The dark premonitions of a final doom were also fulfilled. 

sa Quoted from "The Middle Class Is Dead . . New York Tmss, April 12, 1948, 



This Supplement is, except for some changes in style, ar- 
rangement and the transposition of tense from the present to 
the past, a reprint of my pamphlet "Propaganda and the 
Nazi War Film," issued, in 1942, by the Museum of Modern 
Art Film Library, which kindly permitted its incorporation 
into the present book. Originally serving the purposes of psy- 
chological warfare, the pamphlet was made possible by a 
Rockefeller grant and written under the auspices of Miss Iris 
Barry. My debt of gratitude also extends to Professor Hans 
Speier of the Department of State, Dr. Ernst Kris of the 
Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, 
Dr. Hans Herma of the City College of New York, and Mr. 
Richard GriflSth, Executive Director of the National Board 
of Review of Motion Pictures. As an analysis of official 
screen activities under Hitler, this supplement may ajfford 
some insight into developments beyond the scope of the book 

S. K. 


The following pages are devoted to the analysis and interpretation of 
totalitarian film propaganda, in particular of Nazi film propaganda 
after 19S9. To be sure, all Nazi films were more or less propaganda films 
— even the mere entertainment pictures which seem to be remote from 
politics. However, in this study only those propaganda films will be 
examined which were produced for the express purpose of bolstering 
Nazi Germany's total war effort. 

The Nazis carried out their direct war film propaganda through 
two types of films: 

I. The weekly newsreels — ^including a compilation of newsreels en- 
titled Blitzkrieg im Westen (Butzkrieg in the West) ; 
II. The feature-length campaign films, two of which were shown in 
this country: 

(a) Fetjertaufe (Baptism of Fiee), dealing with the Polish 
campaign, and 

(b) Sma IM Westen (Victort in the West), dealing with the 
Prench campaign.^ 

Before embarking upon my investigation proper, which refers 
almost exclusively to the aforementioned material, I should like to pre- 
sent an account of how the Germans handled their war film production. 
Most official announcements and administrative measures were concerned 
with the shaping and distribution of newsreels, but what holds true of 
them also applies to the feature-length documentaries. 

Immediately after the outbreak of war, the German Propaganda 
Ministry employed every possible means to make of newsreels an effec- 
tive instrument of war propaganda. It is true that, long before the war 
began, the Nazis used newsreels for the dissemination of propaganda 
messages ; but the emphasis they put on newsreels after September 1939 
goes far beyond their former adiievements and cannot easily be over- 

Three principles asserted themselves in the German war newsreels. 

First, they had to be true to reality; i.e., instead of resorting to 
staged war scenes, they had to confine themselves to shots actually taken 
at the front. Because of their documentary intention, the campaign films 

1 The date of the original release of Blxtzkrieo jst the Wkto Is unknown to me. 
It was shown for the first time in New York on November 80, 1940. Baposcsm op Fibb 
(with a first run in Berlin at the beginning of April 1940) is a version of a film un- 
known in this country, Feldzuo in Pouesr (Campaign isr PoLxism), released in 
Berlin on February 8, 1940. VicroaT in the West was shown to the German and 
foreign press for the first time in Berlin on January 29, 1941. 




Baptism op Fire and Victory in the West, both of which consist 
almost entirely of newsreel material, were also subject to this restriction. 
Official accounts as well as press reviews never forgot to stress their 
realism. On February 6, 1940, the Licht Bild Biihne stated that the 
Polish campaign film matched the newsreels of the first weeks of the war 
in that it gave the spectator the impression of being an eyewitness to 
the battle scenes. Official sources became eloquent whenever they pon- 
dered the dangerous mission of the film reporters. Mr. Kurt Hubert, 
export director of Tobis, said in the fall of 1940, on a German short- 
wave broadcast in English, that the regular army cameramen . . are 
regular soldiers, doing a soldier's full duty, always in the first lines. • . . 
This explains the realistic pictures which we show. . . ." ^ For the 
enhancement of this realism, the losses among front-line reporter 
formations were readily announced — ^by people ordinarily reluctant 
to admit the presence of death in their "realistic" pictures. On 
April 26, 1940, the Berlin correspondent of the New York Times 
was authorized to report that twenty-three war correspondents had 
met death since the outbreak of the war, and the opening caption 
of the main part of Victory in the West takes care to increase the 
thrill of subsequent scenes by stressing similar facts. On the strength 
of them, Mr. Hubert labeled the Nazi war film a **perfect document 
of historical truth and nothing but the truth, therefore answering the 
German demand for a good substantial report in every way." ^ But it 
will be seen that the death of brave cameramen did not prevent a clever 
editor from composing their shots into fiOims that, if necessary, blurred 
reality and set aside historical truth. 

The second principle concerned the length of newsreels. After the 
ominous September days they were considerably enlarged. On May 
1940, the Licht Bild Biihne annoimced the forthcoming newsreel as a top 
event of 40 minutes' length. This inflation of the newsreel made it pos- 
sible to produce on the screen much the same effects as those obtained 
through steady repetition in speeches. It was one of many devices 
which served to transform German audiences into a chain-gang of 

The third principle was speed. Nazi newsreels had not only to be 
true to reality but to illustrate it as quickly as possible, so that the war 
communiques were not forgotten by the time their content appeared on 
the screen. Airplanes flew the negatives from the front — a dynamic pro- 
cedure apparently designed to parallel and support the radio front 

Distribution of newsreels, the production of which was unified at the 

^ Sight and Sound, 1941, Vol. 10, No. 88. 



beginning of the war, was most thoroughly organized. In 1940, Goebbels 
said that fihns must address people of all strata.^ Following his instruc- 
tions, the Nazis managed to impose their propaganda films upon the 
entire German population, with the result that within Germany proper 
no one could possibly escape them. Film trucks were sent all over the 
country ; special performances were arranged at reduced prices. Since 
exact timing of the pictorial suggestions was desirable, the Propaganda 
Ministry moreover decreed that each official front newsreel he released 
on the same day everywhere in the Reich. Thus the domestic market was 
completely held under control. 

As to export, the effort of the Nazi authorities to flood foreign 
countries with their official pictures is sufficiently characterized by the 
fact that the Propaganda Ministry prepared versions in sixteen differ- 
ent languages. The Summer 1941 issue of Sight and Soimd, cited pre- 
viously, completes this information. It states: "The U.F.A. office in 
New York reports that, despite blockade difficulties, a German film 
reaches this country on an average of once every two weeks." Of par- 
ticular interest is the well-known use Hitler diplomats made of propa- 
ganda films to undermine the resistance of foreign peoples and govern- 
ments. In Bucharest, Oslo, Belgrade, Ankara, Sofia — to mention but a 
few — official showings of these pictures served as psychological holdups. 
Thus on October 11, 1941, the New York Times reported that Herr 
von Papen had left Istanbul with a film of the German invasion of 
Russia, and that he "will have a large party at the German Embassy 
during which he will show the film to Turkish leaders." Propaganda 
films as a means of blackmail — the gangster methods of the Nazis could 
not be better illustrated. 


The film devices of Nazi propaganda are numerous and frequently 
subtle. This does not imply that the Nazi propaganda films necessarily 
surpassed similar films produced in other countries ; the British film Tae- 
<JET FOB. Tonight realized artistic effects one would seek vainly in any 
of the Nazi films. Moreover, these films suffered somewhat from excessive 
use of newsreel shots, and they included sequences which proved to be 
more tiresome than convincing. Through such sequences certain weak 
points of Nazi propaganda betrayed themselves. 

But despite these deficiencies, which resulted from the problematic 

* Cf. Licht BUd BUhwt, Feb. 8, 1940. 



structure of Nazi propaganda rather than from awkwardness of tech- 
nique, the Nazis managed to develop effective methods of presenting 
their propaganda ideas on the screen. There is hardly an editing device 
thej did not explore, and there exist several means of presentation whose 
scope they enlarged to an extent hitherto imknown. They were bound 
to do so, for their propaganda could not proceed like the propaganda 
of the democracies and appeal to the understanding of its audiences ; it 
had to attempt, on the contrary, to suppress the faculty of understand- 
ing which might have undermined the basis of the whole system. Bather 
than suggesting through information, Nazi propaganda withheld in- 
formation or degraded it to a further means of propagandistic sugges- 
tion. This propaganda aimed at psychological retrogression to manipu- 
late people at will. Hence the comparative abundance of tricks and de- 
vices* They were needed for obtaining the additional effects upon which 
the success of Nazi film propaganda depended. 

The art of editing had been cultivated in Germany long before 19S8, 
and Leni Riefenstahl^s Teiumph oy the Well, for example, drew heav- 
ily upon former achievements. Owing to these traditions, the Nazis 
knew how to utilize the three film media — commentary, visuals and 
sound. With a pronounced feeling for editing, they exploited each medium 
to the full, so that the total effect frequently resulted from the blending 
of different meanings in different media. Such polyphonic handling is 
not often found in democratic war films ; nor did the Nazis themselves 
go to great pains when they merely wished to pass on information. But 
as soon as totalitarian propaganda sprang into action, a sumptuous 
orchestration was employed to influence the masses. 

To begin with the commentary of the two campaign films, it 
expresses in words the ideas that cannot be communicated by means 
of the visuals, such as historical flashbacks, accounts of military activi- 
ties and explanations of strategy. These explanations, which recur at 
regular intervals, deal with the German and enemy army positions and 
report, in somewhat general terms, encirclements just achieved or 
encirclements in the offing. Their whole make-up shows that Jthey are 
intended to impress people rather than to instruct them ; they seem to 
be advertising the efficiency of some enormous enterprise. Besides this 
pseudo-enlightenment typical of the two campaign films, the linkages 
between statements are repeatedly entrusted with propagandistic func- 
tions. In ViCTOEy m thb West they are used to build ellipses: the 
announcement of an action is immediately followed by its result, and 
long developments are supposed to have been consummated in the tiny 
period between two verbal units. Thus a great deal of reality and enemy 
resistance disappears in the "pockets" of the commentary, giving the 
audience a sense of ease of accomplishment and increasing the impression 



of an indomitable German blitz.^ Actually the blitz has flashed through 
an artificial vacuum. 

Within the visuals, much use is made of the fact that pictures make 
a direct appeal to the subconscious and the nervous system. Many 
devices are employed for the sole purpose of eliciting from audiences 
certain specific emotions. Such effects may be obtained by means of 
maps. I wish to supplement the remarks in Professor Speier's excellent 
article "Magic Geography," ^ which also refers to the propagandistic 
value of maps in the Nazi war films. These maps accompany not only 
the strategic explanations, but appear whenever symbolic presentation 
is called for and can be considered the backbone of the two campaign 
films. They stress the propaganda function of the statements about 
strategic developments inasmuch as they seem to illustrate, through an 
array of moving arrows and lines, tests on some new substance. Resem- 
bling graphs of physical processes, they show how all known materials 
are broken up, penetrated, pushed back and eaten away by the new one, 
thus demonstrating its absolute superiority in a most striking manner. 
Since they affect all the senses, they are bound to terrorize the opposite 
camp^ — at least so long as the tests have not been invalidated. In addi- 
tion, these tests are performed on expanses that resemble areas seen 
from an airplane — an impression produced by the camera always pan- 
ning, rising and diving. Its continual motion works upon the motor 
nerves, deepening in the spectator the conviction of the Nazis' djmamic 
power ; movement around and above a field implies complete control of 
that field. 

Other important devices in this medium are: the exploitation of 
physiognomical qualities by contrasting, for instance, close-ups of 
brute Negroes with German soldier faces ; the incorporation of captured 
enemy film material and its manipulation in such a way that it testifies 
against the country of origin; the insertion of leitmotivs for the 
purpose of organizing the composition and stressing certain propa- 
gandistic intentions within the visuals. While Baptism of Fiee presents 
these leitmotivs only in the bud, Victoet in the West shows them 
flourishing. In this film, marching infantry columns betoken an advance ; 
in it, the ideal type of the German soldier emerges time and again in 
close-up, a soft face that involuntarily betrays the close relationship of 
soul and blood, sentimentality and sadism. 

The use of visuals in connection with verbal statements is determined 
by the fact that many propaganda ideas are expressed through pictures 
alone. The pictures do not confine themselves to illustrating the com- 
mentary, but, on the contrary, tend to assume an independent life 
which, instead of paralleling that of the commentary, sometimes pursues 

1 Cf, p. 294 f. « Social Research, Sept. 1941. 



a course of its own — a most important and extensively utilized device. 
In employing it, totalitarian propaganda could manage to shape, on 
the one hand, a rather formal commentary which avoided heretical or 
overexplicit statements, and yet, on the other hand, could give audiences 
to understand that Britons were ridiculous and that Nazi Germany was 
pious and adored peace above all. The Nazis knew that allusions may 
reach deeper than assertions and that the contrapuntal relation of 
image to verbal statement is likely to increase the weight of the image, 
making it a more potent emotional stimulus. 

Where the visuals follow the line of the commentary, much care is 
taken that the depiction of battle scenes does not go so far as to reveal 
the military operations clearly. Except for a few sequences, the pictures 
of German warfare have no informative character. Instead of adequate 
illustration of the verbally indicated activities, they mostly confine 
themselves to exemplifications which frequently remain indistinct or 
prove to be universally applicable stereotypes. Whenever artillery goes 
into action, a series of firing guns appear in quick succession. Since 
such patterns are not specific, the impression of a vacuum is reinforced. 
Whole battles develop in a never-never land where the Germans rule over 
time and space. This practice works in the same way as do a number 
of other devices : it helps confuse the spectator by a blurred succession of 
pictures so as to make him submit more readily to certain suggestions. 
Many a pictorial description is actually nothing more than an empty 
pause between two propagandistic insinuations. 

A conspicuous role is played by the music, particularly in Victory 
IN THE West. Accompanying the procession of pictures and statements, 
it not only deepens the effects produced through these media, but inter- 
venes of its own accord, introducing new effects or changing the mean- 
ing of synchronized units. Music, and music alone, transforms an 
English tank into a toy. In other instances, musical themes remove the 
weariness from soldier faces, or make several moving tanks symbolize the 
advancing German army. A gay melody imbues the parade and decora- 
tion scene in Paris with a soupgon of "Za tjie pari$imne,^' Through this 
active contribution of the music the visuals affect the senses with inten- 
sified strength. 


In their war propaganda films the Nazis, of course, pictured them- 
selves exactly as they wanted to be seen, and when, with the passing of 
time, some trait or other lost its attraction, the propaganda experts did 
not hesitate to suppress it. The meeting of Hitler and H Duce shown in 



Blitzkrieg in the West was eliminated in the fall of 1941 ^ ; and it 
goes without saying that the Russian-German conference on the division 
of Poland in Baptism of Fiee had to disappear from a second version 
of this film released in Yorkville in August 194j1. But for interpretation 
it makes little difference whether or not such self-portraits are true to 
life ; obvious distortions prove to be particularly enlightening, and, on 
the whole, reality cannot be prevented from breaking through its delu- 
sive images, so that these vanish like the enemy armies on the maps in 
Nazi war films. 

All propaganda films were unanimous in emphasizing the dominance . 
of the army over the Party. In his Pattern of Conquest, Joseph C. 
Harsch dwells upon the fact that, instead of letting the Party penetrate 
the army, Hitler preferred to satisfy the army by setting aside Party 
claims. For the period in question the propaganda films coincided with 
Hitler's actual policy in that they devoted to Party activities during 
the war only a few references and shots. After having mentioned the 
role played by Danzig's SA and SS formations. Baptism of Fire con- 
fines itself to showing Hitler's bodyguard being reviewed by its chief, 
and that is all. In Victory in the West, the two statements acknowl- 
edging the presence of armed SS are synchronized with pictures which 
pass much too hastily to make their presence evident. What a contrast 
with the Russian Mannerheim Line, in which Party ojQEicials address 
the encamped soldiers and shake hands with a newly enlisted recruit! 
Such a scene would have been impossible in any of the Nazi fihns. On 
the other hand, these films overlook nothing that might glorify the 
army. In Victory in the West, which bears the subtitle "A Film of the 
High Command of the Army," special effects are called upon to make it 
the Song of Songs of the German soldier : impressive mass-ornaments of 
soldiers prelude the two parts of the film, and it ends with the banner- 
oath scene with which it begins. Here as well as in Baptism of Fire the 
army occupies all the strategically important points of the composition.^ 

* This scene is mentioned in the article **The Strategy of Terror: Audience Re- 
sponse to Blitzkrieg im Westen" by Jerome S. Bruner and George Fowler (The Jour- 
nal of Abnormal and SociaH Psychology, Vol. 86, October 1941, No. 4). The descrip- 
tion refers to a performance of the film on April 9, 1941. 

* Regarding the various arms of the service, the frequency of their appearance in 
the different propaganda films undergoes interesting changes. The ratio of air force 
scenes to the total footage in Baptism of Fire is almost double the ratio in Victo&t ix 
THE West. This is all the more surprising as Butzkeieo iir the WEST—which supplied 
VicTOEY IK THE West with a certain quantity of newsreel shots — ^presents, relative to 
the total amount of shots, air force activities to an even larger extent than does 
Bafrsai of Fxre; the ratio of the latter comes to merely a half of the same ratio in 
Blitzkrieg ijt the West. It is quite inevitable to draw from these figures the conclu- 
sion that in Victory ik the West the share of the air force has been deliberately 
reduced. The question remains as to whether or not this shift resulted from the High 
Command's desire to boast about tank warfare, for tanks do prevail in Victory m the 
West, while, compared with the air force, they play but a minor role in Baptism op 
Fire and Bltezxcrieo ixr the West. 



This could not be done without presenting Hitler as the war lord. 
There is, however, an interesting difference between his appearance in 
Baptism or Fiue and Victoey in the West — a difference pointing to a 
development which, as a matter of fact, had been confirmed by reports 
from Germany. While the commentary of the Polish campaign film men- 
tions Hitler but a few times and then in a laconic manner, the visuals 
zealously indulge in showing him as the ubiquitous supreme executive : 
he presides over a war council, gives soldiers his autograph, increases 
his popularity by having lunch at a military kitchen and shows pleasure 
in parades. In Victory in the West the ratio of pictures to statements 
is somewhat reversed: here the army praises as a strategic. genius the 
man who has launched the attack against the Western powers. The war 
lord exceeds the executive to become a war god — and of a god images 
must not be made. Thus Hitler disappears almost completely behind 
clouds that disperse only on the most solemn occasions; but the com- 
mentary is enthusiastic about the Piihrer's ingenious plans and idolizes 
him as the one who alone knows when the hour of decision has come. 

The introductory part of Victoey in the West contains a shot of 
Hindenburg and Ludendorff during the first World War, presenting 
them as leaders upon whom the outcome of the war depended- They have 
weight ; they seem to be conscious of a destiny beyond mere technical 
considerations. According to the Nazi films, none of the generals of the 
present war equals in rank or responsibility those two old army leaders 
whose functions apparently are assumed by Hitler himself. From time 
to time the real position of his generals is revealed through shots 
showing them all together as his subordinates — the staff assembled 
around its "Fiihrer." And when they appear isolated, bending over 
maps, pacing through columns of soldiers and issuing orders on the 
field, they always give the impression of being high functionaries rather 
than commanders-in-chief. But it is quite natural that increased mecha- 
nization fosters the organizer type and tends to elevate technical experts 
to the top. Moreover, the fact that in aU these fihns warfare itself is 
described as but a part of a larger historical and political process some- 
what circumscribes the role of the generals. 

For the rest, soldiers fill up the propaganda pictures to such an 
extent that there remains little room for civilians ; even cheering crowds 
are closely rationed. In Victory in the West, this space is almost 
entirely given over to the workers. "The best comrade of the German 
soldier is the ammunition worker," to quote the commentary, and the 
synchronized shots amount to several close-ups of worker types in the 
manner of former German leftist films which, for their part, were influ- 
enced by the classic Russian productions. The propagandistic reasons 
for the insertion of these flattering photographs are plain enough. 



Commentary and visuals of the two campaign jSlms collaborate in 
advertising the martial virtues of the Germans: their bravery, their 
technical skill, their indefatigable perseverance.^ But since such virtues 
appear in the war films of all belligerent countries, they can be neglected 
here in favor of certain other traits more characteristic of the behavior 
of German soldiers. Pictures alone imply this behavior ; there is a com- 
plete lack of dialogue, discussion or speeches to tighten and bolster the 
impressions which the silent life on the screen may evoke. While the 
English aviators in Target for Tonight speak frankly about what 
they feel and think, the German soldiers even refrain from echoing any 
official propaganda ideas. In earlier propaganda films, such as Hitler- 
JUNGE QuEX and Triumph or the Will, people were not so discreet in 
this respect. The later attitude may be due to the influence of the High 
Command: talking politics would have offended venerable army tradi- 

Numerous pictorial hints build up the propagandistic image of the 
German soldier, among them the "camping idylls" of both Baptism op 
Fire and Victory in the West — rather drawn-out sections or passages 
that show the troops during their rest period, exhibiting what is left to 
the privates of their private life. Besides the routine work, which con- 
sists mainly of cleaning weapons, the soldiers wash their shirts and their 
bodies, they shave and enjoy eating, they write letters home or doze. 
For two reasons Nazi film propaganda thus emphasizes general human 
needs. First, in doing so it utilizes an old lesson taught by the primitive 
film comedies — ^that the gallery likes nothing more than the presentation 
of vulgar everyday procedures. Each of the six times I attended Victory 
IN THE West in a Yorkville theater, people around me were noticeably 
amused and refreshed when, after a terrific accumulation of tanks, guns, 
explosions and scenes of destruction, a soldier poured cold water over his 
naked comrade. Secondly, such scenes have the advantage of appealing 
specifically to instincts common to all people. Like spearheads, they 

3 It should be noted that in the two campaign fQms members of the elite alone are 
mentioned by name; words of praise are very cautiously distributed and, with h 
few exceptions, apply mostly to the German soldier in general or to army units as 
a whole. German army tradition seems to have been decisive in this respect. Single 
soldiers or small groups of soldiers are nowhere explicitly praised except in four 
possible instances in Victory ik the West, while both films (and the newsreels as 
well) speak highly of the different branches of the service. The exploits of the air 
force and the infantry receive special recognition. "With regard to vilification and ridi- 
cule of the enemy, there exists no reluctance whatever. The enemy is rarely mentioned 
without being criticized; and whenever his bravery is acknowledged, praise is designed 
to stress a subsequent blame. These deprecations are carried out less by verbal state- 
ments than through pictures and synchronization of pictures with musical themes. 
Exploring the polyphonic potentialities of the medium to the full, Nazi propaganda 
excels in blending official suggestions with confidential intimations, of knitting the brow 
and winking the eye at one and the same time. 



diiye wedges into the defense lines of the self, and owing to the retrogres- 
sion they provoke, totalitarian propaganda conquers important uncon- 
scious positions. 

To fashion the screen character of the German soldier the Nazi 
films sometimes have recourse to indirect methods ; they single out and 
criticize, through pictures, the alleged qualities of the various enemy 
types, and, since they always draw upon contrasts, the naive spectator 
automatically attributes the complementary qualities to the Germans, 
Thus the elaborate scene in Baptism of Fiee in which several Poles are 
charged with having tortured and murdered German prisoners attempts 
to impose upon audiences the conviction that Germans themselves are 
indulgent towards their own victims. Could Naizis possibly be^ as flip- 
pant and degenerate as the French soldiers who are shown mingling with 
Negroes and dancing in the Maginot Line? The presentation of their 
conduct invites unfavorable comparison with the Germans'. And when 
English soldiers appear as funny, ignorant and arrogant creatures, 
there is no doubt about the conclusions to be drawn from their vices 
regarding the catalogue of virtues in the opposite camp. The more 
Polish, Belgian, French and English prisoners pass over the screen, the 
more this imaginary catalogue expands. 

Its contents are supplemented by some indications to the effect, for 
instance, that German soldiers ardently love peace. It is not by accident 
that the beginning of Victort in the West presents a series of peaceful 
German landscapes between soldier crowds and inflanunatory maps ; 
that each verse of the song of the "Lieselotte," which is sung by moving 
infantry columns or accompanies their advance, concludes with the 
refrain "Tomorrow the war will be over." That the Nazis also wanted 
soldiers to be attached to home and family is implied by the camping 
idyll of the same film, in which a soldier, playing the organ in an old 
French church, seems to dream intensely of his dear ones at home ; the 
organ music dissolves into a folk-song, and on the screen appear the 
soldier's mother, father and grandmother, whose carefree existence is 
protected against aggressive enemies by the German army. It is well 
known that in reality the Nazis followed quite another line with respect 
to such ideas as home, peace, family ; no one f amihar with their methods 
can overlook the C3micism with which they concocted all these senti- 
mental episodes for the purpose of answering popular trends of feeling 
and, perhaps, the demands of the High Command. To round out the 
counterfeit, the Nazis used every opportunity to insert churches and 
cathedrals, with soldiers entering or leaving them during their rest 
period. Thus the films tacitly intimated that Germany fostered Chris- 
tianity. They also suggested the cultural aspirations of German soldiers 
by showing, for instance, the Organization Todt taking care of historical 



buildings threatened by the progress of war. But these aspirations were 
never directed towards personal achievements. During the first years of 
World War I, the boast was spread through Germany that her soldiers 
carried Nietzsche's Zarathustra and Goethe's Fauust in their knapsacks. 
When, in Baptism of Fire, soldiers read newspapers while marching, 
the possibility that they might be reading for sheer relaxation is denied 
by the commentary which states: "The German soldiers are so news- 
starved that they jump at every paper they can get hold of . . . enjoy- 
ing the reports from the front, from the work at home." 

On the whole, the "Reichswehr" soldier prevails over the Nazi crea- 
tion of the "political soldier." There is, in this respect, a striking 
difference between film propaganda and printed or broadcast propa- 
ganda. While the Nazis always spoke and wrote of the revolutionary 
war that the Axis powers — ^the have-nots — ^had undertaken against the 
rich plutocracies, their films anxiously avoided corroborating such a 
contention. Except for a somewhat eased discipline and the suppression 
of the Prussian lieutenant type, the soldiers on the screen behave in so 
traditional a manner that nobody could suspect them of being the mili- 
tary vanguard of a revolution. The newsreel shots depicting these 
soldiers are certainly true to reality. Why did the Nazis hesitate to 
change the image further? Perhaps for the reason that the rendering 
of a revolutionary army on the screen would have prevented them from 
conveying through the word "revolution" its opposite meaning. Pictures 
alone can be misused as much as words alone ; but as soon as they begin 
to cooperate, they explain each other, and ambiguity is excluded. Since 
the Nazis obviously could not aiford to give up the advantage of cover- 
ing their real aims with such attractive slogans as "Revolution" or 
"New Order," they were, indeed, forced to show in their films soldiers of 
rather neutral behavior. The extensive use made of silent newsreel 
soldiers was to paralyze audience attention and, moreover, to appeal to 
certain strata abroad that Nazi propaganda wished to influence. 

The achievements of the German army resulted from the organiza- 
tional abilities of a people which, as a consequence of its history, so 
deeply desires to be shaped that it mistakes organization for shape and 
submits to organization as readily as the wax to the seal. Nazi war 
films, of course, parade the perfection with which, thanks to such abili- 
ties, the blitz campaigns were prepared and accomplished. The episode 
of Hitler's war council in Baptism of Fiee includes the following state- 
ment : "Continued information on the course of operations is passed on. 
. . . The decisive orders and instructions are returned at once" — sen- 
tences that refer to some shots of soldier typists and telephonists 
inserted in this episode. Like the series of firing guns, telephonists belong 
among the stereotypes within the visuals; their appearance infallibly 



indicates that orders are being issued and an attack is in the making. 
ViCTOEY IN THE West adds to this cliche a few innovations : a shot of a 
"firing-schedule" {Feuerplan) which characterizes the subsequent artil- 
lery bombardment as being "according to plan," and a little scene illus- 
trating the last staff conference before the offensive against the Chemin 
des Dames, In the field of strategic measures, the swiftness of army 
regroupments as well as the admirable functioning of the supply lines 
are strongly emphasized. But, strangely enough, all these scenes treat 
organization in a somewhat perfunctory manner. Compared with the 
British film Target foe Toijight, which really illustrates the prepara- 
tion and the accomplishment of a bomber raid over Grermany, even the 
purposefully informative sequence of the air attack in Baptism of Fire 
is poor in organizational details. This negligence parallels the deliberate 
superficiality with which military actions are exemplified in the medium 
of the visuals. In both cases, the withholding of full information must 
be traced to the inhibitions of a propaganda which lives in constant fear 
of arousing the individual's intellectual faculties. However, this explana- 
tion is too general to be sufficient. Fortunately, Victoey in the West 
offers a clue to 'the problem. 

Captured French film material is used in this film to depict the 
organization of the Maginot Line with surprising care. The main 
sequence devoted to the French defense system offers an account of its 
construction and also includes a series of pictures that dwell extensively 
upon the technical installations of this subterranean fortress. Towards 
the end of the film, the. Maginot Line appears again : French soldiers 
serve a gun in one of the mechanical forts, and the synchronized state- 
ment announces : "For the last time the clockwork of this complicated 
defense machinery is in action." By exhibiting that machinery to the 
fuU, the Nazis wanted not only to heighten the significance of the 
German victory, but also to specify its unique character. The term 
"defense," used in the statement, is particularly revealing. Nazi 
propaganda in the film of the French campaign sets defensive against 
offensive warfare and, moreover, manages to present these two kinds of 
warfare as belonging to two different worlds. That of the French de- 
fenders appears as an obsolete static world with no moral right to 
survive. Since the shots of the French soldiers in the Maginot Line were 
made before the outbreak of the war, it was easy to evoke this impres- 
sion by contrasting them with shots of German soldiers taken during the 
actual campaign. Here it becomes clear why the Nazis focused upon the 
French defense organization, instead of stressing their own organiza- 
tional techniques. They wanted to show that the deus ex machina can 
never be the machine itself; that even the most perfect organization 
proves useless if it be regarded as more than a mere tool, if it be idolized 



by a generation-on-the-decline as an autonomous force. The whole 
presentation aims at implying that the Maginot Line was precisely that 
to the French, and that, in consequence, the German victory was also a 
victory of life over death, of the future over the past.* 

In accordance with their emphasis on Germany's oifensive spirit, 
the Nazi war films characterize organization as a dynamic process 
within pictures of continual movement spreading over enormous spaces. 
The big control-room from which, in Taeget for Tonight, British air 
force activities are directed and supervised would be impossible in any 
of the Nazi war films ; it is too solid a room, it has too much the savor 
of defense. In these films, on the contrary, no room is more than an 
improvised shelter — ^if there exist shelters at all. Railway cars serve as 
Hitler's headquarters or for conferences with the delegates of capitulat- 
ing nations; fields and highways are the very home of generals and 
troops alike. The soldiers eat on the march and sleep in airplanes, on 
traveling tanks, guns and trucks, and when they occasionally stop 
moving, their surroundings consist of ruined houses no longer fit to 
harbor guests. This eternal restlessness is identical with impetuous 
advance, as the Nazi films never fail to point out through moving maps 
and marching infantry columns — devices already commented upon. 
Significantly, the frequent appearance of infantry colunms in the two 
campaign films seems to exceed the use actually made of infantry in the 
campaigns. Such columns were undoubtedly less effective than the 
colunms of tanks and air squadrons, but their appearance on the screen 
is particularly appropriate to impress the idea of advance upon the 
audience. This impression is deepened by repeated close-ups of waving 
swastika banners, which serve the additional purpose of hypnotizing 

To sum up: aU Nazi war films insistently glorify Germany as a 
dynamic power, as dynamite. But, as if the Nazis themselves suspected 
that their sustained presentation of blitz warfare would hardly be sujfi- 
cient to suggest a war of life against death, of the future against the 
past, they supplemented it by politico-historical records adding to the 
parades of goose-stepping soldiers a panoroma of thoroughly manipu- 
lated topical events. While Baptism of Fere modestly contents itself 
with reviewing current world events, Victoby in the West widens the 
perspective by an ambitious retrospect which goes back to the West- 
phalian Peace of 1648. Hitler's speeches encouraged people to think in 
terms of centuries. The accounts of current events as a rule illustrate 
"history" through newsreel shots of notables and weighty incidents: 

*This is fully confirmed hy the statement that accompanies the last appear- 
ance of the Maginot Line: "Here, too, the heroism of the single soldier and the 
enthusiasm of the young national-socialist German troops entirely devoted to the 
FUhrer and his ideas triumph over technique, machinery and materiaL" 


Herr von Ribbentrop boards an airplane bound for Moscow to sign 
there the nonaggression pact; displays of French, English and Polish 
troops serve to demonstrate the war preparations of their countries ; 
Professor Burckhard, delegate to the League of Nations^for Danzig, 
leaves his office after Danzig's annexation by the Reich ; King Leopold 
of Belgium negotiates armistice conditions with a German generaL By 
shaping the world situation with the aid of such anecdotal scenes, the 
Nazis may also have intended to flatter audiences, to give them the 
proud feeling of being introduced to sovereigns, statesmen, diplomats 
and other celebrities. It was a sort of cajolery which made the implica- 
tions of these screen editorials the more acceptable. 

What implications did they convey? On the one hand, they make 
the Western democracies appear as evil powers animated, for centuries, 
by the design to destroy Germany; on the other, they suggest a sadly 
wronged and innocently suffering Germany who, on the point of being 
overwhelmed by these world powers, is only defending herself in attack- 
ing them. The whole myth was to give the impression that Germany's 
war and triumph were not accidental events, but the fulfillment of an 
historic mission, metaphysically justified. Thanks to the introduction 
of this myth, both Baptism op Fiee and ViCToaT in the West expand 
beyond the limits of mere documentary films to totalitarian panoramas 
connecting the march of time with the march of ideas. Such panoramas 
certainly answered the deep-rooted German longing to be sheltered by 
a Weltanschauung. In transferring them to the screen, the Nazis tried 
to conquer and occupy all important positions in the minds of their 
audiences, so as to make their souls work to the interest of Nazi 
Germany. They treated souls like prisoners of war ; they endeavored to 
duplicate in the field of psychology Germany's achievements in Europe. 


The structure of the two Nazi campaign films is particularly important. 
Unlike the newsreels, they are the outcome of compositional efforts 
designed to make them documents of permanent value that would survive 
the more ephemeral weekly reports. Lieutenant Hesse, Chief of the Press 
Group attached to the German High Command, asserted in a radio talk 
on January SO, 1941; "ViCToay in the West has been deliberately 
planned and produced for the general public." The significance of this 
statement, which might have been applied to the Polish campaign film as 
well, is illustrated by the fact that both films were the product of intense 
condensation : the 6,560 feet of Baptism of Fibe were drawn from about 
^0,000 feet of newsreel shots, and Victoey nr the West — according 



to Lieutenant Hesse — ^profited by film material of about one million feet. 
The Nazi experts would not have made a selection on such a vast scale 
without a definite idea as to the choice and the arrangement of the 
comparatively few subjects admitted.^ 

Except, perhaps, for the March of Time shorts and certain travelogs 
which, in the manner of Flaherty's Nanook and Moana, rely on some 
sort of story to animate the presentation of facts, most films of fact 
affect audiences not so much through the organization of their material 
as through the material itself. They are rather loosely composed ; they 
prove to be more concerned with the depiction of reality than with the 
arrangement of this depiction. The two Nazi campaign films differ from ^ 
them in that they not only excel in a solid composition of their elements , 
but also exploit all propagandistic effects which may be produced by 
the very structure. Victory in the West goes so far as to entrust 
special leitmotivs and staged sequences with the function of reinforcing 
the weight of the interior architecture. This evidently cannot be done 
unless certain forceful ideas determine the composition, imbuing it with 
their vigor. The strong will underlying the two Nazi campaign films is 
of course more likely to work upon audience imagination than the men- 
tality behind documentaries which simply meander from one point of 
information to the next. Target eoe Tonight was one of the first 
British war films to draw practical conclusions from this rule. 

In approaching their main subject, both Nazi campaign films follow 
the classic Russian films rather than those of the Western democracies ; 
at any rate, they are exclusively concerned with the destiny of a collec- 
tivity — Nazi Germany. While American films usually reflect society or 
national life through the biography of some hero representative of his 
epoch, these German films, conversely, reduce individuals to derivatives 
of a whole more real than aU the individuals of which it consists. When- 
ever isolated German soldier faces are picked out in the campaign films, 
their function is to denote the face of the Third Reich. Hitler himself is 
not portrayed as an individual with a development of his own but as the 
embodiment of terrific impersonal powers — or better, as their meeting- 
place; in spite of many a reverential close-up, these films designed to 
idolize him cannot adapt his features to human existence. 

It was Goebbels who praised Potemkin as a pattern and intimated 
that the Nazi "Revolution" should be glorified by films of a similar 
structure. As a matter of fact, the few representative films of Hitler 
Germany are as far from Potemkin as the Nazi "Revolution" was from 
a revolution. How could they be otherwise Like the great silent Russian 

* The following considerations are founded upon versions available in this country. 
Other versions may differ from them. It can be assumed, however, that these differ- 
ences do not affect the basic principles of structural organisation discussed here. 



films, they naturally stress the absolute dominance of the collective over 
the individual ; in Potemkin, however, this collective is composed of real 
people, whereas in Tehtmph of the Will spectacular ornaments of 
excited masses and fluttering swastika banners serve to substantiate 
the sham collective that the Nazi rulers created and ran under the 
name of Germany. Despite such basic differences, Goebbels* refer- 
ence to the Russian pattern was not precisely a blunder. Not so much 
because of their allegedly revolutionary conduct as in consequence of 
their retrogressive contempt for individual values, the Nazis were, 
indeed, obliged to rely in their films more on Russian than on Western 
methods, and had even this perverted affinity not existed, the unques- 
tionable propagandistic success of the early Soviet pictures would have 
been suflScient to bring them to the attention of the German Propaganda 
Ministry. As if finding their inspiration in such models as The End of 
St. Petersburg and Ten Days That Shook the Woeld, the two Nazi 
campaign films assumed the form of epics. 

The traditional German penchant for thinking in antirational, 
mythical terms was never entirely overcome. And it was, of course, 
important for the Nazis not only to reinforce this tendency, but to 
revive old German myths ; in doing so, they contributed to the establish- 
ment of an impregnable intellectual "West Wall" against the dangerous 
invasion of democratic ideas. The opening sequence of Triumph of the 
Will shows Hitler's airplane flying towards Nuremberg through banks 
of marvelous clouds — a reincarnation of All-Father Odin, whom the 
ancient Aryans heard raging with his hosts over the virgin forests. In 
keeping with their documentary functions, both Baptism of Fire and 
Victory in the West avoid evoking such reminiscences ; but they are 
deliberately organized in an epic way, and the surface resemblance 
between them and the Eisenstein and Pudovkin films is striking. 

It is for propagandistic reasons that both campaign films not merely 
render the course of battles and the succession of victories. Intent on 
producing a totality of effects, Nazi propaganda had to enlarge its 
program and offer a multifaceted composition rather than a simple 
account of military events. To attain their aim, the Nazis endowed their 
hero, i.e. Nazi Germany, with the traits of the old mythical heroes. Since 
these inevitably had to suffer before they could rise like the sun, 
Germany is shown suffering at the beginning of Baptism of Fire and 
Victory ht the West as well. Weakened and alone, she stands against 
a conspiracy of powers that have fettered her by the Treaty of 
Versailles, and who would not sympathize with her attempt to shake off 
her chains and get rid of her oppressors ? As propaganda pictures these 
films, of course, do not charge their hero with a mythical guilt ; they 
represent him as an entirely innocent, harmless creature — on the maps 



in the Polish campaign film the white of the German territory is in 
symbolic contrast to the black of Poland, England and France — and 
they supplant for the motif of guilt that of justification. The Nazis are 
so intent on justifying Germany's aggression that vindications appear 
everywhere in the film ; towards the end of Baptism op Piee, the com- 
mentary points to posters in occupied Warsaw through which the Polish 
Government had summoned "the population to fight the German army 
as irregulars." ^ 

Now it becomes clear why these films include the totalitarian pano- 
ramas mentioned above: any such panorama is nothing more than the 
mirage of epic structure transmitted in terms of propaganda. The 
campaign films follow the laws of epics also in that they portray war as 
the hero's struggle for liberation, for Lebensraum, Having introduced 
him into the family of epic heroes, they throw a dazzling light on all his 
feats. Germany's infallibility and invincibility are duly streamlined, and 
a number of smaller apotheoses precede the final one which gives the 
full taste of triumph. This world of light is opposed by one of darkness 
with no softening shades. The enemies do not appear as normal foes with 
whom Germany once maintained and afterwards will resume relations ; 
rather, they are presented as the eternal adversaries of the hero, con- 
cocting sinister plans to ruin him. Incarnations of opposing moral or 
natural principles, in these films both Germany and her enemies belong 
to the everlasting realm of the epics in which time does not enter. 
Between the powers boiling in the democratic inferno differences are 
made: France is an evil spirit in a state of decomposition; England has 
all the traits of the devil incarnate, and Poland serves as her wicked 
helper. A clever device is used to characterize these malignant specters 
as epic figures — Nazi film propaganda attributes to them a mythical 
lust for destruction. Numerous verbal statements in the campaign films 
stigmatize the enemy's demoniac sadism by imputing to him the burnings, 
havocs and wrecks abundant in the sjrnchronized pictures ; whereas the 
demolitions obviously caused by the Nazis assume the function of reveal- 
ing the supremacy of German weapons.^ Germans also are shown re- 

2 Cf. p. 806. 

The ratio of destruction to the total footage in the newsreel compilation Burz- 
KMEO IN THE We8t is about 1:6? in Baptism of Fihe about 1:8; in Victory in the 
West about 1:16. Since newsreels — even German newsreels— are released before final 
victory is assured, Nazi propaganda, always on the look-out for stimulants, here 
(more than in the feature films) depended upon the accumulation of catastrophes, 
provided they endangered the enemy. Such a catastrophe as the burning of a big oil 
tank had the additional advantage of being photogenic. That Victory in the West 
exhibits far less destruction than BAPnsai op FntE must be traced to the different 
intentions behind these films. While the Polish campaign film, issued during the period 
of the **phony" war, attempted to spread panic among future enemies, the film of the 
French campaign, with its elliptic construction, aimed, not without hilarity, at 
demonstrating an incomparable military performance — as if the happy ending were 



building destroyed bridges, protecting endangered architecture and 
saving the Cathedral of Rouen. The positive nature of the hero is sys- 
tematically played off against the destructive ego of his antagonists. 

To sum up : the Nazi campaign films can be considered propagandis- 
tic epics. They are not concerned with portraying reality, but subor- 
dinate its insertion, and the method of its insertion, to their inherent 
propaganda purposes. These purposes constitute the very reality of the 
Nazi films. It is interesting to compare Baptism of Fire and Victoey 
IN THE West with the early Eisenstein and Pudovkin films, which also 
picture the suffering and ultimate triumph of a heroic collectivity. That 
the Russian films have no less propagandistic significance than their 
German counterparts is obvious ; but unlike the Nazi films they preserve 
the character of true epics because of their allegiance to reality. In 
these Russian films, the existing distress of the people is rendered with 
such attention to detail that its reality impresses itself upon the audi- 
ence. How carefully the Nazis for their part avoid mobilizing reality can 
be inferred from the superficial way they deal with the same distress. 
Contrary to the Russians, they assign to a few commonplace shots the 
task of bearing out the verbal statements that in the opening parts of 
both campaign films publicize Germany's sufferings prior to Hitler's rise 
to power. These shots, which never succeed in quickening the commen- 
tary's complaints with a semblance of life, recall the conventional illus- 
trations in advertisements for some standard article."* It is as if the 
Nazis were afraid of impinging on reality, as if they felt that the mere 
acknowledgment of independent reality would force them into a submis- 
sion to it that might imperil the whole totalitarian system. On the other 
hand, maps profusely illustrate the disastrous consequences of the 
Westphalian Peace and the Treaty of Versailles. In these films the 
suffering of the hero Germany is purely cartographic. Through their 

just around the corner. It is noteworthy that with regard to the presentation of de- 
struction radio propaganda and film propaganda differ essentially. According to Pro- 
fessor Speier, Nazi broadcasters generaUy refrained fom announcing the destruction 
of military objectives which, in their belief, would not appeal to popular imagination; 
to thrill the average listener they preferred a demolished city hall to heavily damaged 
fortifications. Propaganda films, of course, did not omit any spectacular disaster; they 
moreover profited by their specific possibilities in depicting perforated steel plates 
and other strictly technical effects of German arms — destruction that, if presented 
through words, would hardly have interested people. 

-•True, in such films as SA-Makn Beand, Haks Westmab, Hitlerjum-oe Quex 
and Um vas Meitschenrecht (Foe the Sake of the Riohxs of Man), Nazi 
propaganda details to some extent the sufferings of the middle class and the "mis- 
led" workers to popularize the Freikorps, the SA and the **national revolution." 
But these sequences appear in films that are political screen plays rather than epic 
documentaries after the Russian manner. At any rate, the classic Russian films 
never confined themselves to illustrathig the misery of the people through a few 
stereotyped shots, as the German campaign films do. 



maps the Nazi propagandists revealed that they recognized no reality 
other than that of their pattern of conquest. 

This difference between the Russian and German screen epics affects 
their whole structure. Since the two campaign films shun the very reality 
through which the 'Russian films work upon audiences, they have to use 
other means to develop their story. 

In actual political practice Nazi propaganda never was content with 
simply spreading suggestions, but prepared the way for their accept- 
ance by a skillful combination of terrorist and organizational measures 
which created an atmosphere of panic and hysteria. On the screen, these 
preparatory measures are the task of the arrangement. Both films 
include a number of compositional tricks designed to manipulate the 
mind of the spectator. While the spectator's instincts and emotions are 
kept alive, his faculty of reasoning is systematically starved. Only one 
single seqfuence challenges the intellect : that of the air attack in Baptism 
OF Fire, which indulges in information. This exceptional sequence can be 
explained by the fact that Baptism of Fiee was made during the period 
of the "phony" war when the R.A.F. had not yet raided Germany, and 
Germany herself was still convinced of her absolute air superiority. By 
detailing the air attack in an unusually instructive way, the Nazis pre- 
sumably wanted to adjust the film to the English mentality in the hope 
of impressing upon England the incomparable might of the German air 
force.*^ In this one case, information is identical with threat, and panic 
is to be produced by a sober appraisal of facts. 

The two campaign films had not only to prepare the audience for the 
acceptance of their suggestions, but, above all, had to dramatize the 
story they told, so as to compensate for its lack of reality. Outright 
dramatization was, if possible, to produce artificially the thrills that in 
the Russian films resulted from the rendering of real-life events. Dra- 
matic techniques resort to intermissions, vacant spaces between the 
power centers of the plot. Profiting by its liberty to time the narrative 
at will, Nazi film propaganda endeavored to obtain through mere or- 
ganization the striking effects of drama. 

The introductory parts of both campaign films are particularly 
revealing in this respect. They use all compositional means available to 
characterize the prewar period as a dramatic struggle between the 
powers of light and darkness. At the beginning of ViCTony in the West, 
this struggle is presented in the form of continual ups and downs 
designed to produce a quick succession of tensions. After Versailles, 
Germany seems annihilated, but Hitler appears and the prospect is 

''According to Professor Speier, the German war communique broadcast to 
England in English generally omitted all words and phrases of a merely emotional 



changed. Is it really changed? The democracies persist in conspiring 
against the young Third Reich, and each new German advance is fol- 
lowed by a new assertion of its enemies' diabolic intentions. This steadily 
accelerating series of tensions, increasing in dramatic weight as it 
approaches the present time, leads straight to the ultimate catastrophe 
— ^war. But even the Polish campaign proves to be only an episode, for 
Hitler's peace offer is immediately used as a means of suspense, prepar- 
ing for the next turn of the action, and thus making the drama continue. 
Nazi propaganda always tended to work with such oscillations. They 
would be more effective in this case if they were not presented by means 
of pictorial stereotypes. 

The narration of the two successful campaigns themselves is split up 
into a number of sequences, most of which follow the same pattern. The 
typical sequence opens with a map of pending strategic projects which 
as a rule are realized in the sequence itself. Maps in this context assume 
the function of dramatic exposition: they herald what is to come and 
canalize the audience's anticipations. Once all is laid out, the action 
takes shape as a process that piles up dramatic effects to compensate 
for the omission of substantial documentation. 

Either of two methods is employed to this end. Pirst, in the interest 
of increased suspense many sequences emphasize difficulties that delay 
the happy ending in the offing or even pretend to frustrate it. Ilya 
Ehrenburg reported the Russian General Gregory Zukhoff to have said 
about Germany's military achievements in Poland and France: "For 
them war was merely manoeuvres." ® This contention is borne out by the 
spurious nature of those difficulties. The shots of French soldiers in the 
Maginot Line, inserted towards the end of Victoey in the West, dis- 
tinctly serve the propagandistic purpose of postponing again and again 
a conclusion reached long before. In the same film, a far-fetched "mon- 
tage" sequence appears directly after the sequence of the Maginot Line ; 
resuming motifs of the introductory part, this interlude blends maps of 
the world, toy soldiers and real soldiers, French statesmen and their 
speeches, the "Marseillaise" and a parade on the Champs-Elys^es to 
strengthen, through fabricated testimony of Germany's hopeless situa- 
tion, the importance of her subsequent victories. All these insertions owe 
their existence merely to the necessities of dramatic composition. 

A second method of increasing suspense is the already-mentioned 
"ellipse." ^ Many sequences in Victoet in the West skip the whole 
development that leads from the announcement of an action to its com- 
pletion. Sometimes, the two methods are used jointly: an expository map 
is followed by some obstacle that seems to block the way — then a sudden 

8 Cf. New York Times, Jan. 26, 1942. 
» Cf. p. 2T8 f . 



jump and the trumpets of victoiry sound. To compensate for the sup- 
pression of reality, no better compositional device could be used than 
that of elliptic narration: it symbolizes the German blitz and makes 
credulous spectators overlook all that has been removed by juggler's 
tricks. The ellipse is often practiced with the aid of polyphonic tech- 
nique, which will be discussed later. This is exemplified in the following 
instance: a verbal statement announcing a forthcoming action is com- 
bined with a series of shots not commented upon. They illustrate, more 
or less distinctly, several military operations, the precise meanmg of 
which no one would be able to decipher. Since these shots pursue a vague 
course of their own with no connection with the statement to which they 
belong, audience imagination is led astray by them. The verbal an- 
nouncement of attained success therefore comes as a shock to the dis- 
tracted spectator — a most desirable effect for Nazi propaganda. 

The triumph typical of the end of a sequence is not simply recorded, 
but adorned and savored to the full — except for those rare cases in 
which its mention is passed over to deepen the significance of a subse- 
quent triumph. Frequently this concluding part is much longer than 
the preceding main part devoted to the military actions themselves. In 
Baptism op Fire, the battle of Radom is shown only by a moving map 
and several flimsy pictures, while the report on the consequences of the 
German victory covers a good deal more footage. In Victory in the 
West the scene of Holland's capitulation prevails over the few shots of 
her invasion, and in the same way the victory parade in Paris over- 
shadows the troops' approach to the French capital. These apotheoses 
duplicate the old triumphal processions : first the victorious heroes move 
in, and then — ^while the commentary gloats over the tremendous booty 
and summarizes the strategic outcome — an immense multitude of pris- 
oners and captured munitions pass in review. Never did the Nazis tire of 
assembling, to their own glorification, these masses of human and iron 
material. The technique used in their presentation is the pan-shot. After 
having focused upon a small group of marching or standing prisoners, 
the camera begins to pan, with the result that the visual field expands 
to include infinite columns or a huge camp : a well-known method cleverly 
exploited, for enormous masses most impress the spectator if he can 
compare them with groups of normal size. 

As a whole, the typical dramatic sequence of the two campaign films 
mirrors — consciously or not — ^the typical procedures of a regime in 
which propaganda has been invested with such power that no one is 
sure whether it serves to change reality or reality is to be changed for 
the purposes of propaganda. What alone counts here is the Nazi rulers' 
desire for conquest and domination. The Nazis utilized totalitarian 
propaganda as a tool to destroy the disturbing independence of reality, 



and vherever they succeeded in doing so, their maps and plans were actu- 
ally projected in a kind of yacuum. Thus their formula "according to 
plan" acquired a specific meaning, and many a dramatic and surprising 
effect was obtained. Practice itself furnished the pattern for the stereo- 
typed sequences that helped to shape the campaigns on the screen. 

Drama needs moments of rest to underline the vehemence of subse- 
quent storms. Even more do the campaign films depend upon breaks in 
the tension ; for they are not so much dramas as dramatized epics, and 
their epic tendency counteracts excessive dramatization. The Nazi dram- 
aturgists had not only to supply such apparent ''pauses'* as the "camp- 
ing idylls," but to insert everywhere brief breathing-spaces for the audi- 
ences in their upward flight. Here a grave problem arises. As soon as the 
spectator is permitted to relax, his intellectual faculties may awake, and 
the danger is that he become aware of the void around him. And in this 
frightening situation he might feel tempted to approach reality and, 
approaching it, experience the emotions of that German pilot who, after 
having bombed Leningrad from a great height, too high to see it, 
was forced down by a Soviet plane. The New York Times (Feb. ^6, 
194}^) retailed the story of this pilot as told by the Russian writer 
Tikhonoff : "He landed on the roof of a high apartme:^t house and was 
found gazing wonderingly down onto the moonlit city. As he was brought 
downstairs in the tall building past apartments in which the dwellers 
were leading busy lives it was apparent from his expression . . . that he 
had never thought of Leningrad as a real live place but only as a target 
on the map. The pilot then said he believed Leningrad could never be 
taken or bombed into submission.'* 

It is evident that, despite the compositional necessity of inserting 
pauses in the campaign fihns, Nazi propaganda could not afford to let 
up on its constant pressure. If, on the screen or in life, the dynamic 
power of that propaganda had slackened only for one single moment, 
the whole system might have vanished in a trice. 

This accounts for the extensive use made in the Nazi fihns of poly- 
phonic techniques. Well aware that propaganda must work continuously 
upon the mind of audiences, the Nazis handled it as farmers do the soil. 
The wise farmer does not always sow the same crop, but contrives to 
alternate them; thus his soil is saved from exhaustion and yet with each 
season he reaps his harvest. The campaign films parallel this procedure. 
Instead of ever halting the succession of propaganda ideas, they merely 
change the medium through which these ideas are transmitted. When 
the commentary is reticent for a moment, one can be sure that the 
visuals or the music take over, and often two or three independent mean- 
ings, assigned to diverse media, run contrapuntally like themes in a 
score. Since each of these media affects the spectator's psychological 



constitution in a different way, their skillful variation is continually 
relieving other regions of his mind. He is relieved without, however, being 
released from the steady impact of propaganda. 

The "camping idyll" in Victoey in the West, not synchronized 
with any verbal statements, either predisposes the audience to suggea- 
tions or spreads its own insinuations. After the commentary in this film 
has denounced the alleged invasion of Belgium by French and English 
troops, the visuals not merely depict it, but point derisively at the 
Negroes in the French army and then with the aid of music ridicule the 
British. Propaganda currents arising alternately or jointly from the 
three media impose upon the spectator a kind of psychic massage that 
both eases and strains him at the same time. By this method, polyphony 
achieves its structural task of preventing his escape. Throughout the 
whole of the dramatized pseudo-epics this technique attempts to main- 
tain in the spectator vacillations that, if they really could be maintained, 
would make him indifferent to truth or untruth and alienate him from 
reality forever. 


The outright use Nazi propaganda films make of newsreel shots seems 
to be influenced by certain techniques favored in the leftist camp. In 
1928, the Popular Association for Film Art (Volhsverband fiir Filmr 
Jcunst) transformed, through mere editing procedures, a set of colorless 
Ufa newsreels into a red-tinged film that stirred Berlin audiences to 
clamorous demonstrations. The censor soon prohibited further perform- 
ances, even though the Volhsverhand based its protest upon the demon- 
strable assertion that the film contained nothing but newsreel shots 
already shown in all Ufa theaters without scandalizing anyone. 

The Nazi film propagandists practiced leftist montage technique in 
reverse order: they did not try to elicit reality from a meaningless 
arrangement of shots, but nipped in the bud any real meaning their 
candid-camera work might convey. Nothing was neglected in camou- 
flaging this procedure and in bolstering the impression that, through 
unfaked newsreel material, reality itself was moving across the screen. 
All Nazi war films include shots and scenes that, from a merely photo- 
graphic standpoint, are quite undesirable; Nazi propaganda, however, 
retained them, because they testified to the authenticity of the film as a 
whole and thereby supported confusion of veracity and truth. For the 
same reason, the Nazis speeded the release of their newsreels, at least in 
Germany,^ reducing to a minimum the time interval between war events 

1 Of. p. 276. 



and their appearance on the screen. Owing to such speed, audiences 
involuntarily transferred the impressions they received from reality 
itself to the newsreels, which, like parasites, fed on the real-life character 
of the events they reflected. 

It is not easy to understand why the Nazi film experts obstinately 
insisted upon composing their campaign films from newsreel shots. The 
average spectator, of course, believed their loudly proclaimed desire to 
be true to reality. But actually the wholly staged bombardment in the 
British film Taugbt yoE Tonight seems more real — and is aesthetically 
more impressive — than any newsreel of a similar bombardment in the 
Nazi films. And the Nazis themselves knew quite well that life photo- 
graphed is not necessarily synonymous with the image of life. In the 
Licht Bild Buhne of May 16, IQ^sO, an article on films from the front is 
followed by another one, "Truth to Life — ^the Basic Law of the Artistic 
Shaping of Pilms," the author of which contends : "Truth to life — ^this 
does not mean the mere photography of life. It rather means the artisti- 
cally shaped representation of condensed life.*' Precisely by piling up 
'their newsreel shots, the Nazis betrayed how little they were concerned 
with reality. 

Since they wanted to remove reality, one would expect them to stage 
films freely, instead of following so closely the pictorial records of their 
front-line reporters. It is true that they resorted to moving maps and 
did not hesitate to include in Victory m the West a number of special 
effects. But maps and editing devices disappear amid the overwhelming 
mass of candid-camera work. Why then this predominance of newsreel 
material? The answer does not lie in the aesthetics of film, but is found 
in the structure of the totalitarian system as such. 

Totalitarian propaganda endeavored to supplant a reality based 
upon the acknowledgment of individual values. Since the Nazis aimed at 
totality, they could not be content with simply superseding this reality 
— ^the only reality deserving the name — ^by institutions of their own. 
If they had done so, the image of reality would not have been destroyed 
but merely banished; it might have continued to work in the sub- 
conscious mind, imperiling the principle of absolute leadership. To 
attain their aim, the Nazi rulers had to outdo those obsolete despots 
who suppressed freedom without annihilating its memory. These modern 
rulers knew that it is not sufficient to impose upon the people a "new 
order" and let the old ideas escape. Instead of tolerating such remnants, 
they persistently traced each independent opinion and dragged it out 
from the remotest hiding-place — ^with the obvious intention of blocking 
all individual impulses. They tried to sterilize the mind. And at the same 
time they pressed the mind into their service, mobilizing its abilities and 



emotions to such an extent that there remained no place and no will for 
intellectual heresy. Proceeding ruthlessly, they not only managed to 
prevent reality from growing again, but seized upon components of this 
reality to stage the pseudo-reality of the totalitarian system. Old folk- 
songs survived, but with Nazi verses ; republican institutions were given 
a contrary significance, and the masses were compelled to expend their 
psychic reserve in activities devised for the express purpose of adjusting 
people's mentality, so that nothing would be left behind. 

This is precisely the meaning of the following statement by Goeb- 
bels : "May the shining flame of our enthusiasm never be extinguished. 
This flame alone gives light and warmth to the creative art of modern 
political propaganda. Rising from the depths of the people, this art 
must always descend back to it and find its power there. Power based on 
guns may be a good thing ; it is, however, better and more gratifying to 
win the heart of a people and to keep it." 

Goebbels, an expert at combining journalistic rhetoric and smart 
cynicism, defined modem political propaganda as a creative art, thereby 
implying that he considered it an autonomous power rather than a 
subordinate instrument. Could his propaganda possibly meet the real 
wants of the people.?* As a "creative art," it excelled in instigating or 
silencing popular wants, and instead of promoting valuable ideas, it 
opportunistically exploited all ideas in its own interest. Goebbels, of 
course, was too great an artist to mention that this interest coincided 
with the lust for domination. Nevertheless, his definition is sufficiently 
sincere to intimate that a world shaped by the art of propaganda 
becomes as modeling clay — amorphous material lacking any initiative 
of its own. What Goebbds said about the necessity of an intimate rela- 
tion between propaganda and people reveals how artistically he manipu- 
lated this emptied world. He rejected "power based on guns," because 
power that fails to invade and conquer the soul is faced with ever- 
impending revolution. Here Goebbels' genius asserted itself: propa- 
ganda, he declared, has "to win the heart of a people and to keep it." 
In plain language, Goebbels' propaganda, not content with forcing the 
Nazi system upon the people, endeavored to force the heart of the people 
into this system — and to keep it there. Goebbels thus confirmed that 
Nazi propaganda drew upon aU the capacities of the people to cover 
the void it had created. Reality was put to work faking itself, and 
exhausted minds were not even permitted to dream any longer. And why 
were they exhausted? Because they had incessantly to produce the 
"shining flame of . . . enthusiasm," to which Goebbels attributed the 
faculty of keeping Nazi propaganda alive. Bismarck once said : "Enthu- 
siasm cannot be pickled like herrings" ; but he did not foresee the art of 
continuously creating it anew. Goebbels was, indeed, obliged to feed the 



"shining flame" that gave "light and warmth" to his propaganda with 
ever more propaganda. Cynic that he was, he himself admitted that his 
propaganda must always return to the "depths of the people" and "find 
its power there." Obviously it found its power there by stirring up 
enthusiasm. This is an important point, for the fact that Goebbels' 
artistic efforts were founded on abnormal conditions of life once again 
testifies to the hollowness of the Nazi system : air whizzes when it streams 
into a vacuum, and the more untenable a social structure is in itself, the 
more "enthusiasm" must be aroused lest it collapse. Enthusiasm? When- 
ever the Nazi propaganda fihns detailed their cheering crowds, they 
picked out close-ups of faces possessed by a fanaticism bordering on 
hysteria. In calling this fanaticism enthusiasm Goebbels was for once 
being too modest ; in reality, it was the "shining flame" of mass hysteria 
that he fanned so assiduously. 

Goebbels spoke these words at the Nuremberg Party Convention in 
1934 ; and Teiumph op the Will, the film about this Convention, illus- 
trates them overwhelmingly. Through a very impressive composition of 
mere newsreel shots, this film represents the complete transformation of 
reality, its complete absorption into the artificial structure of the Party 
Convention. The Nazis had painstakingly prepared the ground for such 
a metamorphosis : grandiose architectural arrangements were made to 
encompass the mass movements, and, under the personal supervision of 
Hitler, precise plans of the marches and parades had been drawn up 
long before the event. Thus the Convention could evolve literally in a 
space and a time of its own ; thanks to perfect manipulation, it became 
not so much a spontaneous demonstration as a gigantic extravaganza 
with nothing left to improvisation. This staged show, which channeled 
the psychic energies of hundreds of thousands of people, differed from 
the average monster spectacle only in that it pretended to be an ex- 
pression of the people's real existence. When, in 1787, Catherine II 
traveled southward to inspect her new provinces. General Potemkin, the 
Governor of the Ukraine, filled the lonely Russian steppes with paste- 
board models of villages to give the impression of flourishing life to the 
fast-driving sovereign — an anecdote that ends with the highly satisfied 
Catherine bestowing on her former favorite the title of Prince of Tauris. 
The Nazis also counterfeited life after the manner of Potemkin ; instead 
of pasteboard, however, they used life itself to construct their imaginary 

To this end people as the incarnation of life must be transported 
in both the literal and metaphoric sense of the word. As to the means 
of transportation, Triumph op the Will reveals that the Convention 
speeches played a minor role. Speeches tend to appeal to tlir emotions 
as well as the intellect of their listeners ; but the Nazis preferred to re- 



duce the intellect by working primarily upon the emotions. At Nurem- 
berg, therefore, steps were taken to influence the physical and psycho- 
logical condition of all participants. Throughout the whole Convention 
masses already open to suggestion were swept along by a continuous, 
well-organized movement that could not but dominate them. Significantly, 
Hitler reviewed the entire five-hour parade from his standing car instead 
of from a fixed dais. Symbols chosen for their stimulative power helped 
in the total mobilization : the city was a sea of waving swastika banners ; 
the flames of bonfires and torches illuminated the nights ; the streets and 
squares uninterruptedly echoed with the exciting rhythm of march 
music. Not satisfied with having created a state of ecstasy, the Conven- 
tion leaders tried to stabilize it by means of proved techniques that 
utilize the magic of aesthetic forms to impart consistency to volatile 
crowds. The front ranks of the Labor Service men were trained to 
speak in chorus — an outright imitation of communist propaganda 
methods ; the innumerable rows of the various Party formations com- 
posed tableaux vvoants across the huge festival grounds. These living 
ornaments not only perpetuated the metamorphosis of the moment, but 
symbolically presented masses as instrumental superunits. 

It was Hitler himself who commissioned Leni Riefenstahl to produce 
an artistically shaped film of the Party Convention. In her book on this 
film,^ she incidentally remarks : "The preparations for the Party Con- 
vention were made in concert with the preparations for the camera work." 
This illuminating statement reveals that the Convention was planned 
not only as a spectacular mass meeting, but also as spectacular film 
propaganda. Leni Riefenstahl praises the readiness with which the Nazi 
leaders facilitated her task- Aspects open here as confusing as the series 
of reflected images in a mirror maze: from the real life of the people 
was built up a faked reality that was passed off as the genuine one ; but 
this bastard reality, instead of being an end in itself, merely served as 
the set dressing for a film that was then to assume the character of an 
authentic documentary. Triumph of the Will is undoubtedly the film 
of the Reich's Party Convention; however, the Convention itself had 
also been staged to produce TaiUMPH of the Will, for the purpose 
of resurrecting the ecstasy of the people through it. 

With the thirty cameras at her disposal and a staff of about 120 
members, Leni Riefenstahl made a film that not only illustrates the 
Convention to the full, but succeeds in disclosing its whole significance* 
The cameras incessantly scan faces, uniforms, arms and again faces, 
and each of these close-ups offers evidence of the thoroughness with 
which the metamorphosis of reality was achieved. It is a metamorphosis 
so radical as to include even Nuremberg's ancient stone buildings. 

2 H'hnter den Kulissen dea Beichsparteitag Films, Franz Eher, MUnchen, 1985. 


Steeples, sculptures, gables and venerable fa9ades are glimpsed between 
fluttering banners and presented in such a way that they too seem to be 
caught up in the excitement. Far from forming an unchangeable back- 
ground, they themselves take wing. Like many faces and objects, 
isolated architectural details are frequently shot against the sky. These 
particular close shots, typical not only of Teiumph op the Will, seem 
to assume the function of removing things and events from their own 
environment into strange and unknown space. The dimensions of 
that space, however, remain entirely undefined. It is not without 
symbolic meaning that the features of Hitler often appear before 

To substantiate this transfiguration of reality, Triumph or the 
Will indulges in emphasizing endless movement. The nervous life of 
the flames is played upon; the overwhelming effects of a multitude of 
advancing banners or standards are systematically explored. Movement 
produced by cinematic techniques sustains that of the objects. There 
is a constant panning, traveling, tilting up and down — so that specta- 
tors not only see passing a feverish world, but feel themselves uprooted 
in it. The ubiquitous camera forces them to go by way of the most 
fantastic routes, and editing helps drive them on. In the films of the 
Ukrainian director Dovzhenko, motion is sometimes arrested for a picture 
that, like a still, presents some fragment of motionless reality : it is as 
if, by bringing all life to a standstill, the core of reality, its very being, 
were disclosed. This would be impossible in Triumph of the Will. 
On the contrary, here total movement seems to have devoured the sub- 
stance, and life exists only in a state of transition. 

The film also includes pictures of the mass ornaments into which 
this transported life was pressed at the Convention. Mass ornaments 
thoy appeared to Hitler and his staif, who must have appreciated them 
as configurations symbolizing the readiness of the masses to be shaped 
and used at will by their leaders. The emphasis on these living orna- 
ments can be traced to the intention of captivating the spectator with 
their aesthetic qualities and leading him to believe in the solidity of the 
swastika world. Where content is lacking or cannot be revealed, the 
attempt is often made to substitute formal artistic structures for it : 
not for nothing did Goebbels call propaganda a creative art. Triumph 
OF THE Will not only explores the officially fabricated mass-ornaments, 
but draws on all those discovered by the wandering cameras: among 
them such impressive tableaux vivants as the two rows of raised arms 
that converge upon Hitler's car while it slowly passes between them; 
the bird's-eye view of the innumerable tents of the Hitler Youth; the 
ornamental pattern composed by torchlights sparkling through a 
huge cloth banner in the foreground. Vaguely reminiscent of abstract 



paintings, these shots reveal the propagandistic functions pure forms 
may assume. 

The deep feeling of uneasiness Teiumph op the Will arouses in 
unbiased minds originates in the fact that before our eyes palpable life 
becomes an apparition — a fact the more disquieting as this transforma- 
tion affected the vital existence of a people. Passionate efforts are made 
to authenticate the people's continued existence through multifold pic- 
tures illustrating Germany's youth and manhood and the architectural 
achievements of their ancestors as well. Nazi Germany herself, prodi- 
gally embodied, passes across the screen — ^but to what end? To be 
immediately carried away; to serve as raw material for the construc- 
tion of delusive villages ^ la Potemkin. This film represents an inextri- 
cable mixture of a show simulating German reality and of Grerman 
reality maneuvered into a show. Only a nihilistic-minded power that 
disregarded aU traditional human values could so unhesitatingly manip- 
ulate the bodies and the souls of a whole people to conceal its own 
nihilism. The Nazi leaders pretended to act in the name of Germany. 
But the Reich's eagle, frequently detailed in the film, always appears 
against the sky like Hitler himself — a symbol of a superior power used 
as a means of manipulation. Tb.iumph of the Will is the triumph of a 
nihilistic will. And it is a frightening spectacle to see many an honest, 
unsuspecting youngster enthusiastically submit to his corruption, and 
long columns of exalted men march towards the barren realm of this 
will as though they themselves wanted to pass away. 

This digression may explain why the Nazis in their campaign films 
clung so desperately to newsreel shots. To keep the totalitarian system 
in power, they had to annex to it all real life. And since, in the medium 
of the film, the authentic representation of unstaged reality is reserved 
to newsreel shots, the Nazis not only could not afford to set them aside, 
but were forced to compose from them their fictitious war pictures. 

Unlike those of Triumph op the Will, the events in Baptism 
OF Fire and Victory in the West form part of an independent 
reality. Whereas the cameramen at Nuremberg worked on a well- 
prepared ground, the army film reporters could shoot only what they 
happened to find on their expeditions. Or overlook it. Of this latter 
possibility the Nazis made persistent use, even though they must have 
been aware that the average spectator knows enough of present warfare 
to sense an incompleteness. The two campaign films as well as the 
newsreels avoid touching on certain subjects inseparable from the war 
they pretend to cover. Such omissions are the more surprising as they 
seem to conflict with the basic design of Nazi propaganda. 

One German newsreel issued after the French campaign vividly illus- 



trates the hearty reception given to the troops returning home. Little 
bojs climb upon a standing tank, girls in white strew flowers, and the 
town's whole population is afoot to welcome back the regiment to its 
old garrison. This sequence, however, seems to be an exception within 
the newsreels. At any rate, neither campaign film exhibits people in their 
natural state, but only — and then rarely — in the form of cheering 
crowds. They differ in this respect from the Russian Mannerheim 
Line which concludes with the Leningrad people happily applauding 
the return of their victorious army. Theoretically, the end of Victoet 
IN THE West could have been composed in the same way, for, according 
to William L. Shirer,* all Berlin turned out on July 18, 1940, to attend 
the victory parade through the Brandenburg Gate. "I mingled among 
the crowds in the Pariserplatz," he notes. "A holiday spirit ruled com- 
pletely. Nothing martial about the mass of the people here. They were 
just out for a good time." The rejection of such scenes and of people 
in general may be connected with the particular character of the cam- 
paign films. As descriptions of blitz wars and conquests they could pre- 
tend to be uninterested in the civil life within their national boundaries. 
In addition, both of them are films of the German High Command and 
are thus obliged to glorify the soldier rather than the citizen. Hence, 
they end in parades — ^military apotheoses which also indicate that the 
war is to be continued. Nevertheless, the almost complete exclusion of 
people from these representative films remains a puzzling fact; it be- 
trays the Nazi leaders* genuine indifference to the people they officially 
praised as the source of their power. 

The American versions of Baptism op Fiee and Victory in the 
West suppress even the slightest allusion to the anti-Jewish activities 
of the Nazis in wartime. Other versions may be less reticent : the German 
edition of the Polish campaign film is said to contain a scene with cari- 
cature-like Polish Jews sniping at German soldiers from behind doors 
and trees. Here, as in other cases, the newsreels are more communicative 
than the feature-length films. One newsred bestows on George VI the 
title "King of Judaea" and calls Mr. Mandel "the Jew Mandel," further 
characterizing him as "the hangman of France." Another, likewise re- 
leased after the French debacle, represents deserted cars on the high- 
way as the property of "Jewish warmongers and Parisian plutocrats" 
who wanted to flee in them, their luggage filled with "ingots of gold and 
jewelry." Except for the aforementioned Polish war episode, however, 
these vituperations are confined to a few hints that, unseconded by 
visuals, disappear in the mass of verbal statements. While the Nazis 
continued practicing, printing and broadcasting their racial anti- 
Semitism, they reduced its role in the war films, apparently hesitant to 

« Cf, Berlin Diary, pp. 451-52. 



spread it through pictures. On the screen, an ti- Jewish activities were 
almost as taboo as, for instance, concentration camps or sterilizations. 
All this can be done and propagated in print and speech, but it stub- 
bornly resists pictorial representation. The image seems to be the last 
refuge of violated human dignity. Only one scene, the identification of 
alleged Polish murderers in Baptism of Fiee, points to the unseen 
background of the system — an isolated instance designed to terrorize 

The omission of death in the German war films has struck many 
observers. In this field, the two campaign pictures offer nothing but 
two dead horses of enemy nationality, two graves of soldiers and several 
wounded soldiers who pass by too quickly to make an impression. The 
newsreels practice similar abstinence. In one of them, badly injured 
soldiers appear in a hospital, but since their Fiihrer honors them with 
a visit, they are the elect rather than victims. This cautious line never 
seems to have been abandoned. The New York Times of June 14, 1^1, 
mentions a Nazi newsreel dealing with the blitzkrieg in the Balkans and 
the German North African campaign "which did not show any German 
dead or wounded." And in the Nem York Times Magazine of March 1, 
1942, Mr. George Axelsson notes among other impressions : "The news- 
reels show the German Army sweeping forward against the usually 
invisible enemy without the loss of a single man or vehicle.*' 

A side-glance at Russian war pictures proves the pictorial abolition 
of death to be a peculiarity of Nazi propaganda. The campaign film 
Mannekheim Line not only includes pan-shots over dead Russian 
soldiers, but goes so far as to emphasize the horrors of war through 
relentless close-ups of fragmentary corpses. In their ardent realism, 
these Russian cameramen and film editors did not repudiate the most 
terrifying details. Their later documentary. The Rout of the Gee- 
man Aemies bbfoeb Moscow, reportedly contains a scene with a 
Red Army general "addressing his men against a background of eight 
dangling figures of civilians of Volokalamsk who had been hanged by 
the Nazis." ^ 

Shirer's Berlin Diary makes it evident that the Nazis proceeded 
"according to plan" in withholding from general audiences the calami- 
ties of war. On May 16, 1940, Shirer wrote : "I just saw two uncensored 
newsreels at our press conference in the Propaganda Ministry. Pictures 
of the German army smashing through Belgium and Holland. Some of 
the more destructive work of German bombs and shells was shown. 
Towns laid waste, dead soldiers and horses lying around, and the earth 

* George Axelsson : "Picture of Berlin, Not by Goebbels." 

5 See the report cabled from Moscow: "Film of the Defense of Moscow Depicts 
Army's and People's Fight," in the New York Tim^s of Feb. 17, 1942. 



and mortar flying when a shell or bomb hit." This record is followed on 
June 10, 1940, by some remarks on another newsreel likewise presented 
at a press conference: "Again the ruined towns, the dead humans, the 
putrefying horses' carcasses. One shot showed the charred remains of 
a British pilot amid the wreckage of his burnt plane." Shirer's notes 
testify to the pictorial presence of death in the original German news- 
reels and to the occasional interest of the Propaganda Ministry in im- 
pressing war horrors upon the minds of a selected group of foreign 
correspondents. Presumably the Nazi authorities wanted them to write 
or broadcast reports that would spread panic abroad; but, of course, 
the Nazi authorities did not want to upset people at home. It is note- 
worthy that the Nazis, while suppressing death in their films, once 
allowed a radio broadcast from the front to include the cries of a dying 
soldier ^ ; this proves conclusively that they were well aware of the 
immediate and striking reactions pictorial documents might provoke in 
audiences. Although the whole totalitarian system depended upon its 
ability to transfigure all reality, the Nazis did not dare to deal with 
the image of death. Pub Uns (Foe Us, 1937), a short Nazi film pre- 
senting the grandiose Munich commemoration for fallen partisans of 
the movement, culminates in the following scene: a speaker calls the 
roll of the dead, and at each name he shouts, the masses of living parti- 
sans respond in unison, "Here." But this was a staged ceremony with 
ever3rthing under control. How would uncontrollable audiences react to 
pictures of dead German soldiers on the screen? The lack of corpses 
in the Nazi war films reveals the leaders' secret fear that possibly no 
"Here" would be audible then. Their fear was undoubtedly well-founded. 
The sight of death, this most definitive of all real facts, might have 
shocked the spectator deeply enough to restore his independence of 
mind, and thus have destroyed the spell of Nazi propaganda. 

What actually appears on the screen should be expected to achieve 
its propagandistic mission unequivocally. But the Nazis do not always 
succeed in mastering their material. For instance, the carefully polished 
commentary of the two campaign films overflows with self-justifications 
which cannot but arouse the suspicions of unprejudiced spectators. Be- 
sides the already-mentioned vindication,'^ Baptism of Fiee offers such 
a mass of arguments in favor of Germany that the alleged legitimacy 
of her war against Poland is not only made clear, but too clear. After 
Danzig's return to the Reich the commentator introduces the subsequent 
war episodes with the words : "Poland ... is threateningly taking up 
arms against the just cause of the German nation," and the bom- 
bardment of Warsaw is made to appear the work of its defenders. Simi- 

« I owe this information to the Research Project on Totalitarian Communication. 
Cf, p. 291. 



larly, the verbal statements of Victory in the West overdo their 
attempt to transform Germany's blitz attacks into measures of self- 
defense and in this way get entangled in patently dubious assumptions. 
It was precisely by detailing the proofs of their innocence that the 
Nazi leaders exposed themselves as the aggressors. Experienced crimi- 
nals are rich in alibis. 

The visuals are even more refractory than the commentary. The 
reason is that unstaged reality carries a meaning of its own which 
sometimes undermines the propagandistic meaning imposed upon the 
newsreel shots. Infinite columns of prisoners yield a monotony that 
counteracts their task of substantiating glowing German triumphs. 
Instead of feeling overwhelmed, audiences soon tire; the more so as all 
columns, including those of the German soldiers, resemble each other. 
The confused depiction of military operations not only produces the 
intended effect, but also leads spectators to realize that the Nazis, far 
from giving information, are merely seeking to impress them. In such 
scenes, the Nazi rulers' contempt for the individual becomes apparent. 
No less revealing are the incoherent shots that frequently fill the inter- 
lude between the verbal announcement of a victory and its actual 
achievement. In all these cases — they could easily be increased — ^images 
of genuine reality indict totalitarian propaganda for their manip- 

The void behind this propaganda also manifests itself. It rises to 
the surface in a German newsreel sequence in which Hitler, accompanied 
by his architect, Professor Speer, and several other members of his staff, 
pays a visit to Paris early in the morning. The columns of the Made- 
leine sternly watch as he paces up the steps. Then the Nazi cars pass 
before the Op6ra. They cross La Concorde, drive along the Champs- 
Elysees and slow down in front of the Arc de Triomphe, a close shot of 
which shows Rude's "Marseillaise" emerging from its cover of sand 
bags. On they drive. At the end, Hitler and his retinue stand on the 
terrace of the Trocad^ro, steadfastly gazing at the Eiffel Tower in the 
rear. The Fiihrer is visiting the conquered European capital — ^but is 
he really its guest? Paris is as quiet as a grave. Except for a few police- 
men, a worker and a solitary priest hastening out of sight, not a soul is 
to be seen at the Trocadero, the Etoile, the huge Concorde, the Op^ra 
and the Madeleine, not a soul to hail the dictator so accustomed to 
cheering crowds. While he inspects Paris, Paris itself shuts its eyes and 
withdraws. The touching sight of this deserted ghost city that once 
pulsed with feverish life mirrors the vacuum at the core of the Nazi 
system. Nazi propaganda built up a pseudo-reality iridescent with 
many colors, but at the same time it emptied Paris, the sanctuary of 
civilization. These colors scarcely veiled its own emptiness. 



A PiXM is as a rule divided into sequences, scenes and shots. This division, 
however, cannot be used here, for it would unnecessarily complicate 
the task of eliciting from the Nazi films all their propagandistic 

Since the analysis of a whole presupposes the analysis of its ele- 
ments, we have to trace the smallest units that — either isolated or in 
relation to other units — imply intended propagandistic functions. They 
may be called basic units. 

Complexes of these basic units compose what we call sections, pas- 
sages and parts. 

To begin with the basic units, they appear in the three media of 
which each propaganda film consists. These media are : 

the commentary — ^including both verbal statements and occa- 
sional captions; 

the visuals — ^iucluding camera reality and the numerous maps ; 
the sound — composed of sound ejffects and music, including songs 

(words spoken by characters on the screen are so rare that 

they can be ignored) . 

In the medium of the commentary, the basic unit may be called a 
verbal unit or, more specifically, a 

stateTnent. Each statement consists of one or more sentences. The 
whole commentary of a propaganda film is a succession of such explicit 
verbal statements, each separated from the other by an interval during 
which visuals appear or continue to appear. 

Eaiample 1: Baptism of FntE opens with the 

statement: **As far back as the time of the Templars, the city of 
Danzig used to be a German stronghold against the East. The 
Hanseatic League, a merchant guild of Free German towns formed 
to protect their trade in the Baltic region, developed the city into 
an important and beautiful trade center. Beautiful old houses and 
gates still bear witness to a proud past, and today as ever demon- 
strate the Germanic character of the place.'* 

FiTNCTiON : The intended propagandistic function of this statement is to 
emphasize Germany's historical right to Danzig. 




In the medium of the visuals, we call the basic tinit a 
picture turdt. The picture unit consists of one or more shots. Shots 
form a picture imit if they represent a unity of subject, of place, of 
time, of action, a symbolic unity or any combination of several of these 

Example ^: Maps are sometimes represented through one and the same 
traveling shot, which then constitutes a picture unit. 

piCTFEE XTNiT : Constituting a symbolic unity. 

Eccample ^a: The statement of Example 1 is synchronized with a picture 

piCTUEE TTNiT : A nxmiber of shots showing old Danzig houses from dif- 
ferent angles. These shots represent a unity of subject and place. Its 
intended propagandistic 

function: a romantic-aesthetic appeal. 

In the medium of the sound the basic unit may be called a 
sotmd vmt. The sound unit consists of a uniform noise or a musical 
motif — a sad tune, a gay song, a terrific bombardment. 

These three kinds of basic units cover whatever is communicated 
within the three media. Since their propagandistic function originates 
in the content of the commentary, the visuals and the sound, they may 
be called content vmts. 

In addition to the content imits, there are basic units whose func- 
tions do not originate in any content, but in the relations between con- 
tent units. These units may be called relation tmits. But before de- 
fining them, we have once more to examine the content units. 

Each explicit statement (verbal unit) is usually synchronized with 
one or more picture units and/or sound units. We call such a complex a 
section. Each section normally extends over all three media. 

Example 3: The statement about the German character of Danzig — 
Example 1 — and the picture xmit representing old Danzig houses — 
Example 2a — are accompanied by a sound unit. These three syn- 
chronized content xinits form a section. 

For practiced purposes we assign to the commentary the leading 
role witlSdn any section. Since the commentary differs from the other 
media in that it is composed of explicit verbal statements, its propa- 
gandistic functions are less ambiguous. This methodological preference, 
however, does not imply that the commentary's propagandistic ap- 



peal is more important than that of the visuals or the sound. The con- 
trary will frequently prove true. 

To sum up : each statement determines a section. A section is com- 
posed of one statement, one or more picture units and possibly one or 
more sound units. 

We now revert to the relation units, which can be divided into three 
types : the linkage, the synchronization and the cross-linkage. 

A linkage is the relation between successive content units within 
one and the same medium. Such linkages may also occur between al- 
ready-linked content units. 

Example 4* taken from the visual part of Baptism op Fiee. We shall 
consider two successive sections of this film. 

Section I 

STATEMENT *. *'Hundreds of thousands of Polish prisoners are assembling 
for transportation into the camps." Synchronized with 

piCTUEE unit: About eight shots representing moving Polish prisoner 
columns. The last shot shows a prisoner column retreating towards 
the rear. 

Section II 

statement: "The German troops are still following the retreating 
enemy on all fronts, advancing steadily eastward." 

pictuee unit: Several shots representing a moving German infantry 
column. The first two shots show the column moving towards the 

function : The intended propagandistic function of this linkage between 
two picture units is to emphasize symbolically the contrast of 
German advance with Polish retreat. 

A synchronization is the relation between simultaneous content units 
or linkages of different media within one section. 

Ewample 5: taken from the historical part of Victoet in the West, 

statement: (dealing with the events in Germany after the first World 
War) "The tributes extorted by the enemy, inflation and unemploy- 
ment dragged the German people into the deepest kind of want. 
Exhausted, disrupted and in need of a leader, they drifted towards 
extinction." This statement is synchronized with one 



PICTURE UNIT : consisting of about three shots : 

1. Demonstrating worker processions with banners and signs: 

"Revolution Forever." 

2. Same, with signs claiming "General Strike." 

8. Crowd with signs: "Dictatorship of the Proletariat." A (Jewish- 
looking) speaker instigating the crowd. 
FUNCTION : The intended propagandistic function of this synchroniza- 
tion of a picture unit with a simultaneous statement is obviously to 
identify the moral collapse, emphasized in the commentary, with 
the "Marxist Revolution" for the purpose of slandering this revo- 

A cross-linkage is the relation between a content unit in one of the 
three media of a section and a content unit in another medium of a 
neighboring section. 

Example 6: taken from the media of the commentary and the visuals 
of Victory in the West. Towards the end of this film the following 
two successive sections appear: 

Section I 

statement: "Up to the last moment the heavy forts of the Maginot 
Line are fighting." 

(This statement is followed by another one that can be neglected 

PICTURE UNIT a : A shot of a French gun-crew in a fort of the Maginot 

PICTURE UNIT b : Several shots exemplifying the German attack against 
the fort and its surrender. 

Section 11 

statement: It sums up the balance of the campaign : almost two million 
prisoners have been taken, and there is no end of captured material. 
PICTURE UNIT : It consists of four shots : 

1. Two captured French officers 

2. Pan-shot over a multitude of prisoners 
S. Close shot of encamping Negroes 

4. A group of Negroes, picked out in medium close-up. 
description: There is a distinct relation between the statement of 
Section I praising French bravery, and the picture unit of Section II 
pointing to the number of Negroes in the French army. 



fttkction: The intended propagandistic function of this cross-linkage 
betw^een the statement of Section I and the picture unit of the subse- 
quent Section H is presumably to invalidate the praise of French 
bravery by the pictorial suggestion that the same French army is so 
decadent as to rely on Negroes. Thus Germany's triumph appears to 
be the outcome of moral as well as military superiority. 

We have yet to define the concepts of passage and part. 

The passage is composed of two or several successive sections, the 
number of which depends upon the length of the linkages and cross- 
linkages connecting these sections. If a cross-linkage covers two sections 
and a simultaneous visual linkage three sections, the passage is deter- 
mined by the linkage comprising three sections. (It must be noted, how- 
ever, that only linkages within the media of the commentary and the 
visuals determine the length of a passage; linkages in the medium of 
sound serve also as linkages of passages.) 

Example 7: Both Fxample 4 and Example 6 contain two successive 
sections which form passages. In the first case, the passage is deter- 
mined by a linkage; in the second, by a cross-linkage. 

A part is a succession of passages. 

Example 8: The introduction of Victoet in the West, which surveys 
German history from the Nazi viewpoint, must be considered a part 
of this film. 



Concepts of STBTJCTuaAi. Analysis 







Statement ®^ 
(one or several 
sentencee ) 

Picture -unit 
(one or several 

SouQd xmlt 
(noise or jauslc— 
pweor tlended) 


Picture unit- 

Picture unit. 
Picture unit 

@ /Sound unit 
"I. Sound unit 

Sound unit 


Section a 
Section b 

. Statement 



Section c 


-Picture unit 

Sound unit 

Plctxjre unit 
Picture unit 
^-Jpicture unit 
(picture unit 

Sound unit 

Picture unit 
Picture unit 

Soimd unit 


Section a 


Seistlon "b 

Picture unit 
iPloture unit 


Picture unit 

Soixad unit 
Soimd unit 

S « Synchronization (indicated only In ITo. l) 
L » Linkage 
CL » Cross-Linkage 

The length of passage 5 is determined by linkage 

The length of passage 4 is detemtned by cross-linkage 


A scheme has to be established through which all basic units of Nazi 
propaganda films can be analyzed. Since any large unit is not merely 
the sum of its components, such an analysis does not anticipate that 
of the "parts" of a film or of the film as a whole. On the other hand, 
this scheme will enable us to discover all film devices within the dimension 
of basic units. 

The scheme is designed to be followed through any propaganda film 
from beginning to end. 

In applying the scheme, for instance, to the analysis of Si. passage, 
one has first to consider the units within each medium of this passage — 
i.e., the content units (statements, picture units and sound units) and 
the linkages (relations between content units within each of the three 
media). Only then can the basic units which connect media, i.e., synchro- 
nizations and cross-linkages, be taken into account. 

Units Within Each Medium 

The commentary being the starting-point for the analysis of a 
section, the media will have to be considered in the following order: 
commentary — visuals — sound, 


The commentary includes statements and linkages of statements. 

Each statement has to be listed. Sometimes a statement is followed 
by one or several others that simply exemplify it. These exemplifying 
statements will be put in parentheses to indicate their subordinate 

Example 9: taken from Baptism or Fran 

statement: "Reconnaissance flights are producing valuable informa- 
tion, and snapshots are taken of the movements and positions of the 
enemy." This statement is followed by 

statement: ("The snapshots are developed immediately, and form the 
basis for decisive operations initiated on account of information 

It is advisable to summarize, by means of generalization, the propa- 



gandistic content of most statements. This will be done under the 


The intended propagandistic function of the statement is pointed 
out in the subsequent column 


This column appears, of course, in each division of the scheme. It 
should never contain anything but the presumed function of the basic 
unit under consideration. 

Like Nazi propaganda in general, Nazi film propaganda attempts 
to reduce the intellectual faculties of audiences, so as to facilitate 
the acceptance of its appeals and suggestions. Many basic units — 
particularly linkages — assume such preparatory functions. Others are 
intended to enlist sympathies for Nazi Germany or to terrify audiences 
through a demonstration of the German army's striking power. When- 
ever necessary, we characterize the type of the function. 

This column is reserved for all such remarks as may prove valuable 

Example 10: taken from the historical part of Victoet in the West. 

statement: "Willingly the Belgian customs guards open the frontier 

barriers to the troops of the Western Powers." 
content: Belgium actually violating neutrality. 

functions : Statement serves as moral justification of Germany's attack 

against Belgium. (Vindication motif.) 
eemaeks: Falsification of facts. 


They have to be considered under the headings 
desceiption and 


The visuals include picture units and linkages of picture units. 
Picture waits: 

The shots of which each picture unit consists have to be listed 
and described. (See. Examples 4, 6 and 6.) 



As in the case of most statements, it is useful to summarize the 
propagandistically effective content of most picture units. This will be 
done in the column 


Note on "additionaV* picture units: Frequently, a statement is syn- 
chronized with a series of picture units, several of which are not covered 
by the statement. These "additional" picture units, which may elaborate 
on it or take a course of their own, seem to refer to a statement omitted 
in the commentary. The summary of their content, as listed in the 
column "Content," can be considered a substitute of this missing state- 
ment. Such implicit statements will be put within quotation marks. 

Ewample 11 : taken from Victoet in the West 

statement: "In the gray light of dawn the German armies advance 
along a wide front." The foUowing picture units are synchronized 
with this statement: 

picTTJEE UNIT a: About eight shots, showing several running soldiers 
and moving tanks that, like the soldiers, clear away obstacles. 

CONTENT : Actions necessitated by the advance of the armies. 

PICTURE UNIT b : Several shots of soldiers running across a field swept 
by enemy fire, seeking cover and machine-gunning. 

content: "Soldiers crossing a field under enemy fire." (Implicit state- 

PICTURE UNIT c : Several shots of an empty village street, with soldiers 
running and machine-gunning. 

content: "Soldiers taking possession of a village." (Implicit state- 

Linkages : 

Like the linkages of statements, the linkages in the medium of the 
visuals have to be taken into account under the headings 



The sound includes sound units and linkages of sound units. 

Sound units: 

They have to be examined in the column 


Many sound units are definitely associated with certain images or 
ideas. Marching music, for instance, conveys the idea of military life. 



dance music that of festive occasions. In addition, if a musical unit is 
synchronized once or twice with picture units representing scenes of 
advance, it will later serve as a "leitmotiv," and this "leitmotiv" will 
automatically evoke the notion of advance. We mention all such fixed 
associations in the column "Characterization." 

Example 1^: taken from Victory in the West and supplementing 
Example 10. — ^The 

statement: (of Example 10) "Willingly the Belgian customs guards 
open the frontier barriers to the troops of the Western Powers," 
determines a section composed of two picture units not to be listed 
here. The second picture unit is synchronized with two sound units : 

SOUND UNIT a : Music imitating the chatter in a chicken-yard. 


SOUND UNIT b : English song, "The Siegfried Line," thinly instrumented 
and sung by a chorus. 

CHAEACTERizATiON : Satirical variation of a popular British soldiers' 
song. — Here we have an exception : the music alone assumes the func- 
tion of ridiculing English soldiers. 

Since, as a rule, sound alone does not impart propaganda messages, 
the column "Functions" is omitted here. 

Linkages : 

Linkages of sound are not considered in this scheme. 

Units Cormectvng Media 


There are three kinds of synchronizations (i.e., relations between 
simultaneous content units or linkages of different media within one 
section) : 

Relation of the visuals to the commentary 
Relation of the sound to the commentary 
Relation of the sound to the visuals. 

We consider first the 
Relation of tnsuals to commentary: 

Picture units or linkages in the medium of the visuals refer to state- 
ments in different ways, each of which may assume a specific propa- 



gandistic function. We characterize these different relations under the 


With regard to the statement to which they refer, picture units 
(or linkages) may be symbolic, exemplificative, illustrative or explica- 
tive. The exemplification is either clear or indistinct. All kinds of repre- 
sentation can be elaborative. 

As to the "additional" picture units, we refer to the note, page 816. 
The relations of these "additional" picture units to their "implicit" 
statements can be characterized, of course, in exactly the same manner 
as the relations to explicit statements. 

Relation of sound to commentary and visuals: 

These relations need only be examined with respect to their intended 



They have to be checked in the columns 


The scheme will be completed by the division 


Within this division we define the role each medium plays in produc- 
ing the total effect of the section or passage under discussion. 


Prelvmnary remark: In case several basic units and their functions 
are intermingled, it is only the most important function that counts. 


1) "The German Com- 
mand has received 
information that a 
strong enemy force in 
the vicinity of Lille, 
consisting of a large 
number of French and 
English divisions, has 
been ordered to ad- 
vance against the 
lower Rhine and on 
into the Ruhr Dis- 
trict, in violation of 
Belgian and Dutch 

2) (**Willingly the Bel- 
gian customs guards 
open the frontier bar- 
riers to the troops of 
the Western Powers.") 
The beginning of this 
statement coincides 
with the shot of Bel- 
gian customs guards In 
Picture Unit 2a. 


taken from Victoey in the West 

1) One shot of a map representing 
this intention. Arrows symbolizing 
enemy groups cross Belgium's 
boimdaries and begin to advance 
towards a point marked "Ruhr." 

2a) About 19 shots representing 
the advance of various French 
army units: motorcyclists, cyclists, 
artillery, moving tanks, soldiers in 
a freight train. — One of the first 
shots shows Belgian customs guards 
opening the barriers. The final 
shots represent marching French 
infantry, mostly Negroes, from dif- 
ferent angles. 

2b) British troops: 
Shot 1: Medium shot of two Eng- 
lish officers standing together. 
Shot 2: Close-up of an English tank 
moving towards the left. 
Shot 8; English infantry column 
advancing towards the left. 
Shot 4: Same from another angle. 
Shot 6: English infantry slowly 
moving in Indian file towards the 

Shot 6: Close shot of moving tank. 


2b) Sound unit syn- 
chronized with Shots 
1 and 2: music imitat- 
ing the chatter in a 
2b) Sound unit syn- 
chronized with Shots 
8-6: variation of the 
English soldiers' song, 
"The Siegfried line," 
thinly instrumented 
and sung by chorus. 






1) content: Enemy's intention to violate Belgium's neutrality and 

to invade the Ruhr on the point of being realized. 
FUNCTIONS : Enemy stigmatized as aggressor. 
REMARKS : Statement a falsification. 

2) CONTENT : Belgium actually violating neutrality. 

functions: Hint at Belgium's guilt implies moral justification of 

German attack against Belgium. 
remarks: Statement a falsification. 



Picture imits 

1) content: See description of picture unit. 

functions : Threat to Ruhr symbolically stressed. 
REMARKS : Moving map. 


^b) content: Through linkage with map (see Lmkages) and relation 
of map to Statement 1 (see Synchronizations) , content is defined 
as "Enemy enters Belgium" (Implicit statement). 

FUNCTIONS : a) Aggression is a fact. 

b) Shots of Negro troops intended to arouse race bias and 
deprecate French racial behavior. 

remarks: Arrangement of captured French and English film ma- 


description: Immediately following the map in Picture Unit 1, 
Picture Unit 2 seems to substantiate the symbolic advance of the 
arrows. Both picture units linked. 

FUNCTIONS : See Function a) of Picture Units Sa and 




2b) CHAEACTEEizATioN : Funnj. 

2b) CHAEACTESizATioN : Satirical variation. In ridiculing English sol- 
diers, music assumes a propagandistic function — an excep- 
tional case. 

EEMAEKS : Use of the popular English song, "The Siegfried Line." 


Relation of visuals to commentary 

1) CHAEACTEEiZATiON : Map symbolizes Statement 1. 

functions: Symbolic representation gives the impression that ene- 
mies were already about to carry out intentions denounced by 

2) CHAEACTEEizATiON : Illustrative with reference to implicit statement 

"Enemy enters Belgium." 
FUNCTIONS : See Function a) of Picture Units 2a and 2b. 

Relation of sotmd to visuals 

2b) functions: Ridiculing big English tank. 
2b) functions: Ridiculing English soldiers. 

composition of passage 

commentaey: Enemy intending aggression. Moral justification of 
German attack. 

visuals: They mark enemy aggression as a fact and, moreover, 
arouse race bias (through relation of map to commentary, link- 
age and picture units). 

sound: Ridiculing English arms and troops (through sound alone 
and relation of sound to visuals). 



taken from Victoet in the West 

I) "Up to the last mo- 
ment, the heavy forts 
of the Maginot Line 
are fighting,** 

(This statement is fol- 
lowed by another one 
ehat can be neglected 

2) "Almost two mil- 
lion prisoners . . . and 
the total materiel of 
more than 130 divi- 
sions . . . fall into 
German hands." 



Shot 1: Long shot of a fort. 
Shot 2: In the fort of the Maginot 
Line: French soldiers tending a 

Shot 8: Battlefield: German sol- 
diers cutting barbed wire. 
Shot 4: Flashes of fire shooting 
over the fort. 

Shot 6: Clouds of smoke rising 
from the fort. 

Shot 6: Barbed wire before clouds 
of smoke. 

Shot 7: Medium shot of fort 
Shot, 8: German soldiers entering 
the fort. 

Shot 9: French commander surrcn- 
dermg the fort to the German offi- 

Shot 10: The destroyed fort with 
swastika banner hoisted. 


Shot 1: Two French officers (pris- 
oners) with an orderly. 
Shot 2: Camera pans over a mul- 
titude of prisoners. 
Shot 3: Close shot of encamping 

Shot 4ii A group of Negroes picked 
out in medium close-np. 


2) Negro music remi- 
niscent of jazz tunes. 




1) content: Praise of French bravery. 

FUNCTIONS : Appreciation of French bravery does credit to Germany 
and emphasizes German strength* 

remarks: Praise of enemy. 
S) CONTENT : Overwhehning proof of German victory, 

ruNCTiONS : Appeal of triumph. 

EEMAEKS : Use of statistics. 




Picture waits 

1) content: French soldiers fighting and Germans conquering fort. 
FUNCTIONS : Pictoes show German bravery. 

EEMABKS : Shot 2 taken from captured film material — a faked insert. 
Shot 10 shows a swastika banner. 

2) CONTENT : Prisoners, with emphasis on Negroes. 
FUNCTIONS : See functions of cross-linkage. 


2) CHAEACTEEizATiON : Music reminds audiences of jazz bands. 


Relation of visuals to commentary 

1) CHAEACTEEIZATION: Shot ^ vaguely exemplificative. Other shots 

Relation of sound to vistutls 

functions: Coloring pictures of French prisoners, the music hints 
at French flippancy. 


DEscEiPTiON : Cross-linkage between Statement 1 and Picture Unit 2 
synchronized with Sound Unit 2. 

functions: Cross-linkage suggests the following thought: French 
soldiers may be brave, but French people are decadent. They 
deserve to be defeated. German victory proves moral superiority. 


commentaet: Emphasis on German efficiency. Appeal of triumph. 
VISUALS: German bravery (through picture unit). 
sound: Hint at French flippancy (through relation of sound to 

periority (through cross-linkage). 



Opening of Baptism ot Fiee 

1) **As far back as the time of the Tem- 
plars, the city of Danzig used to be a 
German stronghold against the East. The 
Hanseatic League, a merchant guild of 
Free German towns formed to protect 
their trade in the Baltic Region, devel- 
oped the city into an important and 
beautiful trade center. Beautiful old 
houses and gates still bear witness to a 
proud past, and today as ever demon- 
strate the Germanic character of the 

2) "This memorable German town was 
cut oflF from the mother country by the 
Treaty of Versailles and was formed into 
a so-called 'Free State' under the con- 
trol of the League of Nations. Various 
restrictions and obligations were imposed 
upon this new political structure such as 
exportation customs, postal and railway 
sovereignty allotted to Poland within the 
Green Line. A district especially needed 
for the Territory of the Free State, the 
Westemplatte, guarding the entrance to 
Danzig's harbor, was equipped with ex- 
tensive munition dumps, and the little 
fishing village of Gdynia, in a direct con- 
tradiction to the agreement underlying 
the constitution of the Danzig Free State, 
was enlarged into a harbor admitting sea- 
going ships, thus aiming at gradually 
averting and battling the trade connec- 
tions of Danzig property.** 

8) **The German fraction among the con- 
glomerate of nationalities was ruthlessly 
persecuted. German schools were closed, 
industrials and landowners expropriated 
and large parts of the German populace 
were driven from the country. In steadily 
growing numbers, they tried to escape 
from Polish terror and seek protection 

1) A series of shots of Danzig architec- 

Facades behind the river — among them a 

Close-up of the upper part of this 

Parts of an old fountain in close-up 
Traveling aroimd the fountain and its 
fence towards a steeple 
Another steeple 

Upper parts of several patrician houses 
Tilting up to the upper part of an old 

Tilting down facade to the portal. 

2a) Map representing the Danzig terri- 
tory. Camera travels up from the map. 
At the left appears the territory of Po- 
land colored entirely black and thus con- 
trasted with the little white Dan2sig 
region. The word "Polen" appears white 
on the black ground. Then we see the 
botmdaries of the Free State region and 
the words: Freistaat Danzig, Westem- 
platte. Odingen. 

2b) Map representing Eastern Europe. 
At the right of the Free State region the 
black Polish territory with the word "Po- 
len'* in white letters. Camera travels up 
from the map, so as to encompass almost 
all Europe with England and France. The 
words "England?* and "FrtmhreicV* ap- 
pear against black background. 

8) Picture unit representing German ref- 
ugee procession: 

German refugees with bag and baggage 
moving through wood 
They advance (about 20 to 80) towards 
the foreground 

A big column of refugees moving on road 
towards the rear, where, at one point. 



on Reich territory. Hundreds of thou- 
sands of worn-oul^ distressed and panic- 
stricken people poured daily into Ger- 
caiui refugee camps." 

there is a sign with inscription, "Lager 

Medium shot of a refugee group moving 

towards the foreground 

Medium close-up: Refugees getting out of 


Two or three shots of a go-cart handed 
down from the deck of a bus 
Medium shot: group of refugees stand- 
ing, a crying woman with child in their 
midst. Then a similar group 
Another group with a man with a child 
in his arms; at his left a crying girl. 



1) content: Statement puts emphasis on Grermanic character of Dan- 

zig and on beauty of its architecture. 
FUNCTIONS : Germany a civilized nation (Appeal of culture). Her 
historical right to Danzig. 

2) CONTENT : Germany wronged by Versailles and the Poles. 
FUNCTIONS : To arouse sympathy for Germany's sufferings. 

3) CONTENT : Germans victimized by Polish terror. 
FUNCTIONS : Same as above, with emphasis on Poland's guilt. 
EEMABKs: Use of statistics. 


A) BESCBiFTiON : Statements 1 and £. 

functions: Contrast between Grermany^s economic and cultural 
achievements in Danzig (Statement 1) and Germany's sufferings 
(Statement 2) assumes the preparatory function of stirring 
emotions. Thus the spectator's intellectual faculties will be some- 
what weakened. This kind of manipulation, found also in the 
opening part of Victory in the West, is the more needed here 
as the subsequent Statement 8 invites unprejudiced audiences to 
think of the millions Nazi Germany herself drove away from 
their homes. 

B) description: Statements 2 and S. 

functions: Intensification of the propagandistic effect of each 




Picture tmits 

1) content: See description of picture unit. 
PtTNCTioiTS: Romantic-aesthetic appeal. 
EEMAS.Es: Two steeples. 

2) content: Representation of Danzig's predicament and Poland*s 

dependence on England and France. 

functions: Black and enormous, Poland is made to appear an un- 
canny threat to the tiny Free State region which, through its 
white color, is marked as the innocent victim. The later appear- 
ance of black England and France symbolizes these powers as 
pulling the strings from behind. 

EEMAB-zs: Moving maps. 

3) content: See description of picture unit. 
eunctions : To arouse pity for German refugees. 


Same as verbal linkages, with same functions. 


Relation of visuals to coTwmentary 

1) chaeacteeization : Illustrative, with reference to mention of Dan- 
zig's beauty. 
etjnctions: Collaboration with statement. 
S) chaeacteeization : Symbolic and elaborative. 

ETTNCTiONs: Collaboration with statement. 
3) chaeacteeization: Clearly exemplificative, with reference to men- 
tion of German refugees- 
EXTNCTiONs: Collaboration with statement. 

composition of passage 

commentary: Appeal of culture. Historical right to Danzig. De- 
manding understanding of Grermany's sufferings (through state- 
ments). — Stirring emotions and thereby reducing intellectual 
faculties. Intensification of propagandistic effects (through link- 

visuals : Picture units and linkages supporting statements and link- 
ages of statements. 

Moreover: Romantic-aesthetic appeal. Poland an uncanny 
threat. England and France pulling the strings (through picture 




taken from Baptism of Fiee. The section deals with the attack 
against the Westemplatte, 

**After the fortifications have been cov- 
ered by steady fire, a debarcation corps 
is sent ahead to attack. The men spread 
out in a hand-to-hand fight." 

Remark: The sound consists of noise 
without particular significance, 

Shot 1: Soldiers looking through peep- 
holes in a wall at the right. 
Shot 2: Close shot of several soldiers 
passing from left to right. The harbor of 
Gdynia in the background, with a battle- 

Shot 8: Soldiers running around a ruined 

Shot 4: Soldiers moving through wood 
towards the rear. 

Shot Si Infantry with hand grenades 
moving towards the rear, through smok- 
ing wood. 

Shot 6: Same from another angle. 

Shot 7: Long shot of same, with much 


Shot 8; Woods. White smoke rismg. Ex- 
plosion in a remote glade. 
Shot 9: Same, with river in the fore- 


content: Description of a military operation. 

Picture tmit 

content: Soldiers — action indistinct. 

Relation of picture wnit to statement 
chaeactbrization : Indistinctly exemplifying. 

FUNCTIONS : It is of course difficult for film-makers to cope with what has 
been called the intangibility of modern war, A battle covers enor- 
mous space, and there is no longer a general's hill from which to 
survey and direct operations. In addition, the mechanization of 



warfare has contributed much towards transforming the battlefield 
into a vacuum. However, all these difficulties do not prevent the 
British film Tabgbt pob. Tonight from offering exhaustive informa- 
tion about a bomber raid. Similarly, the air-attack episode in 
Baptism op Fibe proves that the Nazis themselves are quite able to 
enlighten the audience if they want to do so. But, as a matter of fact, 
they do want just the opposite, as can be inferred from the prepon- 
derance, in both campaign films, of battle scenes edited after the 
manner of Example IV. Blurred depictions of military actions, these 
scenes seem designed to confuse the mind, so as to prepare it for the 
acceptance of propaganda suggestions. 


function of weakening intellectual faculties. 



taken from Vicxoay in the West 

1) "Just as on the 
Somme, the battle of 
June 9 on the Aisne 
begins with attacks 
against the fortified 
villages of the Wey- 
gand Line. As soon as 
they are overcome, the 
road to the Marne is 

2) "German troops 
reach the Mame — ^the 
river of destiny of the 
World War." 

la) A series of shots devoted to 
moving German tank miits; 
Soldiers passhig a village 
Tank moving towards rear 

Tank moving towards foreground, 
with a soldier on it. Shot taken 
from below (in Russian manner) to 
heighten the soldier's significance; 
he looks noble — an incarnation of 
the ideal Grerman soldier. 
Guns and trucks moving from left 
to right 

Close-up of a moving tank with 
soldiers on it 

House at the road, with signboard 

"JReimt U km" 

Moving tanks 

Same from another angle 

Close-up of tank wheels. 

lb) Infantry column moving (right 
to left) 

Same (left to right) 
Same (towards foreground) 
Close shot of same, picking out sol- 
dier faces, with horses in the rear 
Close shot of same, showing march- 
ing legs, wheels and wounded sol- 
diers in the background 
Infantry colunm moving in Indian 

2) A number of cars parking; be- 
t\veen the cars a soldier. 
Stone bridge; on its balustrade the 
word '*Mwme*' 


1) The frequently re- 
peated **leitmotif* of 
a marching theme. 

March music ceases. 



1) content: Litimation of German advance to the Mame. 
ruNCTioNS : 

2) CONTENT : The Mame reached. 
ruNCTioNS : 




desceiption: Statements 1 and S form an elliptic linkage; i.e., the 
intimation of German advance is abruptly followed by the 
announcement of its success, 

functions: To produce the impression of irresistible lightning 
advance and thus to overwhelm audiences. 


Picture v/nits 

la) content: Troops moving, particularly tanks. 

FUNCTIONS : The shot of the advancing tank with the noble soldier 
on it is obviously intended to substantiate the idea of German 
advance. (Proof : the same shot is resinned in the film's important 
final passage.) Through this shot the whole picture unit, insig- 
ficant in itself, assumes a symbolic meaning, 
lb) CONTENT : Moving infantry colunm. 

functions: Since such columns appear whenever the commentary 
emphasizes advance, they play the role of a pictorial leitmotif 
designed to evoke the impression of advancing German armies. 
EEMAEKS : Moving infantry column. 
S) CONTENT : Germans at the Mame. 



CHAEACTEEizATiON : Usually synchronized with advancing infantry 
columns, march music assumes the character of a stimulating 
leitmotif impregnated with the meaning "advance.'^ 



Relation of visuals to commentary 

1) CHAEACTEEIZATION: Elaboration of statement in an exemplificative 

FUNCTIONS : The pictures are to imbue the audience with the convic- 
tion that the verbal intimation of further advance will come true. 
^) CHAEACTEEIZATION: Sufficiently exemplificative. 
FUNCTIONS : Collaboration with statement. 



Relation of sound to tnsuals 

FUNCTIONS : The musical leitmotif not only deepens the impression 
of advance evoked by the pictures, but makes audiences overlook 
the wounded soldiers and tired faces that might invalidate this 


commentary: Irresistible lightning advance (through elliptic link- 

VISIT AiiS: Kepresentation of advance (through picture units that 
include a shot of the ideal German soldier and the leitmotif of 
moving infantry columns). 

SOUND : Deepening impression of advance (through musical leitmotif 
alone and its relation to visuals). 


Most of the books and articles listed here are available in the 
Museum of Modern Art Library, New York. 

"Abwege (Crisis)," Close Up, III (Territet, Switzerland, Sept. 1928)> 
no. 8: 72-75. 

"Achtung, Liebe — ^Lebensgef ahr ! (Where's Love There's Danger)," 

Close Up, V (Territet, Switzerland, Nov. 1929), no. 5: 4s41-42. 
Ackerknecht, Erwin, Lichtspielfragen, Berlin, 1928. 
"All for a Woman," Exceptional Photoplays, I (New York, Nov. 1921), 

bulletin no. 10 : 4-6. 
Alten, W. v., "Die Kunst in Deutschland," J. Meier-Graefe, ed., 

Ganymed: Blatter der Maries Gesellschaft, II (Miinchen, 1920), 


Altenloh, Emilie, Zur Soziologie des Kinos, Schriften zur Soziologie der 

Kultur, Jena, 1914, 
Altman, Georges, "La Censure contre le Cin&aa," La Revue du CinSma, 

III (Paris, 1^ Fevrier 1931), no. 19:33-42. 
Amiguet, Fr^d.-Ph., CinSma! CinSmal, Lausanne and Geneve, 1923. 
Arnheim, Rudolf, Film als Kunst, Berlin, 1932. 
"Auch Murnau . . Filmwelt (Berlin, 22. Marz 1931), no. 12. 

B., W., "Geschlecht in Fesseln," Close Up, III (Territet, Switzerland, 
Dec. 1928), no. 6:69-71. 

Baldzs, B61a, Der sichtbare Mensch: Eine FUm-Dramaturgie, Halle, 
Germany, 1924. 2nd ed. 

^ Der Geist des Films, Halle, Germany, 1930. 

, "Der Film sucht seinen Stoif," Die Ahenfeuer eines Zehnmark- 

scheme, Berlin. [A publicity program to this film issued by Deut- 
sche Vereins Film A.-G.] 

Balthasar, "Die Dekoration," Hugo Zehder, ed., Der FUm von Morgen 
(Berlin-Dresden, 1923), pp. 73-90. 

"Barberina," Variety, New York, Nov. 1, 1932. 

Bard^che, Maurice, and Brasillach, Robert, The History of Motion 
Pictures, New York, 1938. 

Barr, Alfred H., Jr., "Otto Dix," The Arts, XVII (New York, Jan. 
1931), no. 4:286-61. 

Barrett, Wilton A., "Grey Magic," National Board of Review Maga- 
zine, I (New York, Dec. 1926), no. 7 : 4-6. 




, "MorgenroV ihid., VIH (June 1933), no. 6: 10-12, 15. 

Barry, Iris, Program Notes, Museum of Modern Art Pilm Library. 

[Reviews of and commentary on films.] 
, "The Beggar's Opera,'* National Board of Review Magazine, 

VI (New York, June 1931), no. 6: 11-lS. 
Bateson, Gregory, "Cultural and Thematic Analysis of Fictional 

Films," Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, 

Series II, V (New York, Feb. 1943), no. 4:72-78. 
Berr, Jacques, "Etat du Cinema 1931 : Etats-Unis et Allemagne," La 

Revue du Cinima, III (Paris, 1«^ JuiUet 1931), no. 24: 40-51. 
Berstl, Julius, ed., ^6 Jahre Berliner Theater und Victor Barnowshy, 

Berlin, 1930. 

Birnbaum, Leonhard, *'Massenscenen im Film," Ufa-Blatter, Programm- 
Zeitschrift der Theater des Ufa-Konzems (Berlin, 19^1?). 

Blakeston, Oswell, "An Epic — ^Please," Close I7p, I (Territet, Switzer- 
land, Sept. 1927), no. 3:61-66. 

, "Lusts of Mankind," ihid,, HI (Nov. 1928), no. 5: 38-41. 

, "The Adventures of a Ten-Mark Note," %Ud,y pp. 58-61. 

, "Interview with Carl Freund," t6aU, IV (Jan. 1929), no. 1: 


, "Dracula," Md,, pp. 71-72. 

, "Snap," ibid, (May 1929), no. 5: 38-42. 

Boehmer, Henning von, and Reitz, Helmut, Der Film m Wirtschaft und 

Recht. Seme Herstellung und Verwendrng, Berlin, 1933. 
Boehnel, William, "Avalanche," New York World Telegram, March 29, 


, "Morgenrot," %}M., May 17, 1933. 

Brody, Samuel, "Paris Hears Eisenstein," Go$e C7p, VI (Territet, 
Switzerland, April 1980), no. 4:283-89. 

Bryher, FUm Problems of Soviet Rttssia, Territet, Switzerland, 1929. 

, "The War from Three Angles," Close Up, I (Territet, Switzer- 
land, July 1927), no. 1: 16-22. 

, "G. W. Pabst. A Survey," ibid. (Dec. 1927), no. 6: 56-61. 

, "A German School Film," ibid., VI (Feb. 1930), no. 2: 128-33. 

^, "Berlin, April 1931," Close Up, VTH (London, June 1931), 

no. 2:126-33. 

, "Notes on Some Fihns," ibid., IX (Sept. 1932), no. 3: 196-99. 

Buchner, Hans, Im Banm des Films, Die Weltherrschaft des Kmos, 
Miinchen, 1927. 

"Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The," Ewceptional Photoplay s^ I (New York, 
March 1921), bulletin no. 4:3-4. 



CaligarirHeft. Was deutsche Zeittmgen iiber den FUm berichten, Berlin. 
[A publicity pamphlet issued by Decla-Bioscop-Konzern.] 

Canudo, UUsine aux Images, Paris, 19^7. 

Carter, Huntly, The New Spirit in the Cinema, London, 1930. 

Chavance, Louis, "Trois Pages d'un Journal," La Revue du Cinema, II 
(Paris, 1^^ Juin 1930), no. 11: 52-54. 

Chevalley, Freddy, "Mickey Virtuose — ^La M^lodie du Monde," Close 
Up, VI (Territet, Switzerland, Jan. 1930), no. 1 : 70-73. 

Chowl, H., "The French Revolution," Close Up, IV (Territet, Switzer- 
land, May 1929), no. 5:46-51. 

Coboken, Jos., "Als ich noch rund um die Friedrichstrasse ging . . ," 
^5 Jahre Kmematograph (Berlin, 1931^*), pp. 13-14. 

"Comment and Review," Close Up, II (Territet, Switzerland, Feb. 
1928), no. 2:64-71. 

,%hid, (May 1928), no. 5: 80-82. 

"Crime and Punishment," National Board of Retnem Magazine, II 

(New York, June 1927), no. 6: 10-11. 
Crisler, B. R., "The Friendly Mr. Freund," New York Times, Nov. 21, 


D., H., "Conrad Veidt: The Student of Prague," Close Up, I (Territet, 
Switzerland, Sept. 1927), no. 3:34-44. 

"Die Dame mit der Maske," Ufa-Leih, Berlin. [An undated bro- 

Davidson, Paul, "Wie das deutsche Lichtspieltheater entstand," Licht 
Bild BUhne. $0 Jahre Film (Berlin, 1924), pp. 7-10. 

"Deception," Exceptional Photoplays, 1 (New York, April 1921), 
bulletin no. 5 : 3-4, 7. 

Decla-Bioscop Verleih-Programme, Berlin, 1923. [These illustrated 
programs include short synopses of various films.] 

Deming, Barbara, "The Library of Congress Project: Exposition of a 
Method," The Library of Congress Quarterly Journal, II (Wash- 
ington, Nov. 1944), no. 1 : 3-36. 

Diaz, P., A St a Nielsen, Eine Biographie unserer popularen Kiinstlerin, 
Berlin, 1920f . 

"30 Kulturfilme," Ufa-Leih, Berlin. [An undated brochure.] 
Dreyfus, Jean-Paul, "Films d'^pouvante," La Reme du Cmima, II 

(Paris, 1«' Mai 1930), no. 10:23-33. 
, "La Femme sur la Lune," ihid., pp. 62-63. 

Eger, Lydia, Kinoreform umd Gememden, Veroffentlichungen der sachs. 
Landesstelle fiir Gemeinwirtschaft, Heft IV, Dresden, 1921. 



Ehrenburg, Hya, "Protest gegen die Ufa," Frankfurter ZeUnng, 29. 
Feb. 1928. [Reprint in Museum of Modern Art Library, clipping 

**Em€lka-Konzern," Das grosse Bilderhuch des Films (Filmkurier, Ber- 

Kn, 1926), pp. 49-6i 
"Die entfesselte Kamera," Vja-Magazm, IV (Berlin, 25.-S1. Mar2 

1927), Heft 13. 

Epardaud, Edmond, "Faust," Cinia-Cini (Paris, 15 Mars 1927), 
pp. 19-20. 

Erikson, Erik Homburger, "Hitler's Imagery and German Youth," 
Psychiatry: Journal of the Biology and Pathology of Interper- 
sonal Relations^ V (Baltimore, Nov. 1942), no. 4:475-93. 

"Erlauterungen," [Szenen aus dem 'Faust'-Film], Film-Photos wie 
noch nie (Frankfurt a.M., 1929), pp. 51-62. 

Evans, Wick, *'ICarl Freund, Candid Cinematographer," Popular Pho- 
tography, IV (Chicago, Feb. 1939), no. 2: 51, 88-89. 

Ewers, Hanns Heinz, Dr. Langheinrich-Anthos, and Noeren, Heinrich, 
Ber Student von Prag: Erne Idee von Hanns Heinz Ewers, Berlin, 

Fanck, Arnold, Der Kampf mit dem Berge, Berlin. 

yStiirTne iiber dem Monthlanc, Em Filmhildhuch, Basel, 1931. 

Farrell, James T., **Dostoievsky and 'The Brothers Karamazov' Re- 
valued," New York Times Booh B.e*mew, J an. 9, 1944. 

, "Will the Commercialization of Publishing Destroy G^od Writ- 
ing?" Ne^ Directions (Norfolk, Conn., 1946), no. 9:6-37. [Re- 
printed as a pamphlet under the title: "The Fate of Writing in 

"Faust," National Board of Review Magazme, I (New York, Nov. 
1926), no, 6:9-10. 

Fawcett, L'Estrange, Die Welt des Films, Unter Mitwirkung des Wiener 
Filmbunds fiir die deutsche Ausgabe frei bearbeitet und erganzt 
von C. ZeU und S. Walter Fischer, Ziirich, Leipzig, Wien, 1929?. 

Film Forum^ New York, March 19, 1933, program 3. 

Fihn Index, A Bibliography, New York, 1941. 

Film Society Programmes, issued by The Film Society, London. [1925- 

Fonss, Olaf, Krig, SvZt Og Film, Fihnserindringer Gennem 20 Aar, 11, 

Copenhagen, 1932 
"Frau im Mond," Close Up, Y (Territet, Switzerland, Nov. 1929), 

no. 5 : 442-44. 

Freedley, George, and Reeves, John A., A History of the Theatre, New 
York, 1941. 



Freeman, Joseph, Never Call Retreat, New York, Toronto, 194S. [A 

"Freie Fahrt," aose Up, IV (Territet, Switzerland, Feb. 1929), no. 2: 

"Fritz Lang Puts on Film the Nazi Mind He Fled From," New York 

World Telegram, June 11, 1941. 
Fromm, Erich, Escape from Freedom, New York and Toronto, 1941. 
"25 Jahre Filmatelier," ^5 Jahre Kinematograph (Berlin, 1931?), 

pp. 65-66. 

"Gassenhauer," Filmwelt (Berlin, 5. April 19S1), no. 14. 
"Geheimdienst," Filmwelt (Berlin, 21. Juni 19S1), no. 25. 
"The Golem," Exceptional Photoplat/s, I (New York, June 1921), 

bulletin no. T.-SMj. 
Gregor, Joseph, Das Zeitalfer des FUms, Wien, 1932. 3rd ed. 
Grune, Karl, "Wie ein Film entsteht : Von der Idee bis zum Drehbuch," 

Ufa-Magazin, II (Berlin, 29. April— 5. Mai 1927), Heft 18. 
, "VTas Karl Grune, der Regisseur, iiber den Kussenfilm zu 

sagen weiss," Film-Photos wie noch nie (Frankfurt a.M., 1929), 

p. 15. 

H., D. L., "Films in the ProTdnces," Close Up, IV (Territet, Switzer- 
land, June 1929), no. 6: 52-57. 
Haas, V^illy, "Das letzte Filmjahr," Das grosse Bilderhtich des FUms 

(Filmkurier: Berlin, 1926?), pp. 6-12. 
Hafker, Hermann, Der Kino tmd die Gehildefen, Wege zwr Hehimg des 

Kinowesens, Gladbach, 1915. 
Hain, Mathilde, Studien uber das Wesen des friihecBpressionistischen 

Dramas, Erhard Lommatzsch, ed., Frankfurter QueUen und For- 

schungen zur germanischen und romanischen Philologie, Heft V, 

Frankfurt a.M., 1933. 
Hamilton, James Shelley, "Das Lied vom Leben," National Board of 

Review Magazvne, VI (New York, Nov. 1931), no. 9:7-9. 

, "M," ibid., Vm (March 1933), no. 3 : 8-11. 

^,"Hell on Earth," ibid. (April 1983), no. 4 : 8-9. 

Hamson, Nina, **Une Nouvelle (Euvre de Ruttmann," La Rewie du 

CinSma, U (Paris, Juillet 1930), no. 12: 70-71. 
Harbou, Thea von, "Vom Nibelungen-Film und seinem Entstehen," Die 

Nibehmgen (Berlin, 1924?) 5 PP- 6-11. [A program brochure to 

this film.] 

Hartlaub, G. F., "Zur Einfiihrung," Die neue SachlicMeit: Wanderaus- 
stelhmg der Stadtischen KtmsthaUe zu Mannheim (Sachsischer 
Kunstverein, Dresden, 18. Okt.-22. Nov. 1925), pp. 3-4. 



Hauptmann, Carl, "Film und Theater," Hugo Zehder, ed., Der Film 
von Morgen (Berlin-Dresden, 1923), pp. 11-20. 

Hegemann, Werner, Frederich the Great, London, 1929. 

"Heimweh," aose Up, I (Territet, Switzerland, Dec. 1927), no. 6: 74- 

Hellmtind-Waldow, Erich, "Alraune and Schinderhannes," Close Up, II 
(Territet, Switzerland, March 1928), no. 3:45-51. 

,"Combinaison: Le PHm et la Sc^ne," ihid, (April 1928), 

no. 4: 2S-30. 

Herring, Robert, "La Trag^die de la Rue," Close Up, lU (Territet, 

Switzerland, July 1928) no. 1 : 31-40. 

, "Reasons of Rhyme," ihid., V (Oct. 1929), no. 4: 278-86. 

Hildebrandt, Paul, **Literatur und Fihn," Dr. E. Beyfuss, ed., Das 

Kulturfilmhiich (Berlin, 1924), pp. 83-86 
"Hochverrat," FUm-Magazin (Berlin, 29. Sept. 1929), no. 39; and 

(17. Nov. 1929), no. 46. 
Hoffman, Carl, "Camera Problems," Close Up, V (Territet, Switzer- 
land, July 1929), no. 1: 29-31. 
Hollander, Felix, "The Road to Beauty and Strength," Wege m Kraft 

und Schdnheit (Berlin, 1926F), pp. 47-50. [Publicity pamphlet 

issued by Kulturabteilung der Ufa,] 
"Homecoming," National Board of Meview Magazine, III (New York, 

Dec. 1928), no. 12:7, 10. 
Horkheimer, Max, "Theoretische Entwiirfe iiber Autoritat und Fami- 

lie," Horkheimer, ed., Studien iiber Autoritat und Familie, For- 

schungsberichte aus dem Institut fiir Sozialforschung (Paris, 

1936), pp. 3-76. 

lUustrierter Fihnr-Eurier, Berlin. [Issues devoted to synopses and stills 
of specific productions. Usually undated.] 

"Inhaltsangabe fiir die Nibelungen . . ," Die Nibelungen (Berlin, 
1924?), pp. 17-24. [A program brochure to this film.] 

Iros, Ernst, Wesen wnd Dramaturgic des Films, Zurich, 1938. 

"Isn't Life Wonderful?" Exceptional Photoplays, V (New York, Dec- 
Jan. 1925), nos. 3 and 4:6. 

Jacobs, Lewis, The Rise of the American FUm, A Critical History, 
New York, 1939. 

Jahier, Valeric, "42 Ans de Cinlma," Le Rdle intellectuel du CvnSma, 

Soci^t^ des Nations, Cahier 3 (Paris, 1937), pp. 13-151. 
Jahrhuch der Filmmdustrie (Berlin, 1923), 1. Jahrgang: 1922/8. 
, (Berlin, 1926), 2. Jahrgang: 1923/25. 



Jannings, Emil, "Mein Werdegang," Ufa-Magmm, I (Berlin, l.-T. 

Okt. 1926), Heft 7. 
Jason, Alexander, "Zahlen sehen uns an , . ^6 Jahre Kvnemafograph 

(BerHn, 19SU), pp. 67-70. 
Jeanne, Ren^, "Le Cinema Allemand," UArt CinSmafographiquei VIII 

(Paris, 19S1), 1-48. 

Kalbus, Oskar, Vom Werden deutscher FiVmkwnst (Altona-Behrenfeld, 

Germany, 1985), I: Der stumme Film; II: Der Tonfilm. 
Kallen, Horace M., Art and Freedom, New York, 1942. ^ vols. 
Kaufmann, Nicholas, FUmtechniJe und Kzdtur, Stuttgart, 1931. 
Kracauer, Siegfried, Die AngesteUten. Am dem neuesten DeutscJUand, 

Frankfurt a.M., 1930. 
, "Der heutige Film und sein Publikum," Frankfurter Zeitung, 

30. Nov. and 1. D«z. 19^8. 

, « 'Kuhle Wampe' verboten!" ibid., 5. April 193^. 

, "Courrier de Berlin," La Revue du CinSma, HI (Paris, Aoiit 

1931), no. 25:6^6. 
, "Trop luxueux Passe-Temps," ibid. (1^ Octobre 1931), no. 27 : 


Kraszna-Krausz, A., "The Querschnittfilm," Clote Up, III (Territet, 

Switzerland, Nov. 1928), no. 6:25-34. 

, "A Letter on Censorship," ibid., IV (Feb. 1929), no. 2 : 66-^2. 

y "G. W. Pabst's *Lulu,' " ibid. (AprH 1929), no. 4 : 24f-30. 

, "Exhibition in Stuttgart, June, 1929, and Its Effects," ibid., 

V (Dec. 1929), no. 6: 466-64. 
, "Production, Construction, Hobby," ibid., VI (April 1930), 

no, 4:311-18. 

^,"A Season's Retrospect," Close Up, VIII (London, Sept. 

1931, no. 3:226-31. 
, "Four Fihns from Germany," ibid., IX (March 1932), no. 1: 


Krieger, Ernst, "Wozu ein WeltkriegsfOm?" Ufa^Magazin, Sender- 

nummer: Der Weltkrieg, ein historischer Film (Berlin). 
Kurtz, Rudolf, Bwpressiomsmus md Film, Berlin, 1926. 

Lang, Fritz, "Kitsch — Sensation — ^Kultur und Film," Dr. E. Bejrfuss, 

ed., Das KulturfUmbuch (Berlin, 1924), pp. 28-31. 
. , "Worauf es beim Nibelungen-Film ankam," Die Nibelmigen 

(Berlin, 1924^*), pp. 12-16. [A program brochure to this film.] 
, "Screen Foreword to *The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse,* " Program 

to The Last Will of De. Mabusb, issued by World Theatre, New 

York, March 19, 1943. 



Lejeune, C. A., Cinema, London, 1981. 

Leprohon, Pierre, "Le Cinema Allemand," Le Rouge et le Noir, cahier 

special (Paris, Juillet 1938), pp, lS4-4!3. 
Lewis, Lloyd, "Erich von Stroheim of the Movies . . New Yorh 

Times, June 22, 1941. 
Leyda, Jay, Frogram Notes, Museum of Modern Art Film Library. 

[Reviews of and commentary on Russian fihns.] 
"The Loves of Pharaoh,'' Escceptional Photoplays, II (New York, 

Jan.-Peb. 1922), bulletin no. 1:2-3. 
Lubitsch, Ernst, "Wie mein erster Grossfilm entstand," Licht BUd 

Buhne. 30 Jahre Film (Berlin, 1924), pp. 13-14. 

Mack, Max, Wie Jcomme ich zum Fihnf, Berlin, 1919. 
McKechnie, Samuel, Popvlar Entertawments Through the Ages, Lon- 
don, 1931. 

MacPherson, Kenneth, "Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney," Close Up, I (Terri- 

tet, Switzerland, Dec. 1927), no. 6:17-26. 

, "As Is," ibid., m (Aug. 1928), no. 2: 5-11. 

^,"A Document of Shanghai," ibid. (Dec. 1928), no. 6: 


, ''Times Is Not What They Was I" ibid., IV (Feb. 1929), no. 2 : 


, "UberfaU (Accident)," ibid. (April 1929), no. 4: 70-72. 

"Madchen in Uniform," National Board of Review Magazine, VII 

(New York, Sept.-Oct. 1932), no. 7 : 9-10. 
Magnus, Max, "Danton," Variety, New York. [Clipping in Museum of 

Modem Art Library files, dated Feb. 1931?.] 
"The Man Who Cheated Life," National Board of Review Magazin^e, 

IV (New York, Feb. 1929), no. 2: 10-11, 23. 
"Martin Luther," National Board of Review Magamie, HI (New York, 

Oct. 1928), no. 10:4. 
Martini, Wolfgang, "Nature and Human Fate," Close Up, I (Territet, 

Switzerland, Nov. 1927), no. 6: 10-14. 
Mayer, Carl, "Technische Vorbemerkungen des Autors," Ernst Angel, 

ed., Sylvester: Em Lichtspiel von Carl Mayer, Das Drehbuch, 

Band I (Potsdam, 1924), pp. 15-16. 

9 "Sylvester," ibid., pp. 17-96. [Scenario of this film,] 

Meisel, Edmund, "Wie schreibt man Filmmusik?" Ufa-Magazin, II 

(Berlin, 1.-7. April 1927), Heft 14. 
Messter, Oskar, Mein Weg mit dem FUm, Berlin, 1936. 
Metzner, Erno, "German Censor's Incomprehensible Ban," Close Up, 

IV (Territet, Switzerland, May 1929), no. 5: 14-16. 



, "A Mining Film," Gose Up, IX (London, March 1932), no. 1 : 


''Middle Class Is Dead, Says Official Nazi Paper," New York Times, 
April 12, 1948. 

"Das Modell von Montparnasse," Film-Magazin (Berlin, 21. April 
1929), no. 16. 

Mdllhausen, Balduin, "Der Aufstiegdes Films," Ufa-Bldtter, Programm- 
Zeitschrift der Theater des Ufa-Konzerns, Berlin, 1921 F. 

Molo, Walter von, Das Fridericus Rex-Biich, Berlin, 1922. 

*'Montmartre," Exceptional Photoplays, IV (New York, Feb.-March 
1924), nos. 5 and 6: 5. 

Moore, John C, "Pabst — Dovjenko — ^A Comparison," Close Up, IX 
(London, Sept. 1932), no. 3: 17<>-82. 

Moreck, Curt, SittengescMchte des Kinos, Dresden, 1926. 

"Morgenrot," Variety, New York, Feb. 28, 1988. 

Moussinac, L^on, Panoramique du CinSma, Paris, 1929. 

, "Introduction" [to "Dziga Vertov on Film Technique"], FiZtw- 

front, I (New York, Jan. 28, 1985), no. 8:7. 

Miihsam, Kurt, "Tiere im FiLm," Ufa-Blatter, Progranom-Zeitschrift 
der Theater des Ufa-Konzems, Berlin, 1921?. 

Mungenast, Ernst Moritz, Asia Nielsen, Stuttgart, 1928. 

Museum of Modern Art Library, New York, clipping files. [These in- 
clude film reviews, programs, program brochures, prospectuses, 
publicity booklets or sheets, etc., relating to a multitude of fihns, 
and many pertinent notes.] 

" 'Mutterchen' Russland," Ufa-Magazin, I (Berlin, 27. August-2 Sept. 
1926), Heft 2. 

Neumann, Carl, Belling, Kurt, and Betz, Hans-Walther, FiZw- *Kumt,^ 
Film-Kohn, Film-Korruption, B<»rlin, 1987. 

Neumann, Franz, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National 
Socialism, Toronto, New York, London, 1942. 

"Das Netz der Indizien," Filmwelt (Beriin, 22. Marz 1981), no. 12. 

"New Educational Films from UFA," CZo*^ Up, V (Territet, Switzer- 
land, Sept. 1929), no. 8:252-54. 

Noldan, Svend, "Die Darstellung der Schlachten," Ufa-Magazm, 
Sondemummer: Der Weltkrieg, ein historischer Film (Berlin). . 

Olimsky, Fritz, Tendenzen der FUmwirischaft und deren Auswirhmg 
auf die Filmpresse, Inaugural Dissertation, Berlin, 1981. 

"Out of the Mist," Close Up, I (Territet, Switzerland, Oct. 1927), no. 



Pabst, G. W., ^'Servitude et Grandeur d'Hollywood," Le Role intellect 
tuel du CmSma, Soci^t^ des Nations, Cahier 3 (Paris, 1967), 
pp. 261--65. 

Pabst, Rudolf, "Die Bedeutung des Films als Wirtschafts-Propaganda- 
Mittel," Dr. Priedrich Rudolf Pabst, ed., Modeme Kinemato- 
graphie^ AmtHches Organ der Internationalen Kinematograph- 
ischen Gesellschaft (Miinchen, 1920), 1. Januarheft: 25-62. 

Panofsky, Erwin, "Style and Medium in the Moving Pictures," transi- 
tion (Paris, 1937), no. 26: 121-33. 

"Passion," Exceptional Photoplays, I (New York, Nov. 1920), bulletin 
no. 1 : 3. 

"Peter the Great," Eieceptional Photoplays, IV (New York, Feb.-March 

1924), nos. 5 and 6: 1-2. 
Petzet, Wolfgang, Verhotene FiJme. Eine Streitschrift, Frankfurt a.M., 


Pick, Lupu, "Vorwort des Regisseurs," Ernst Angel, ed., Sylvester: 
Ein Lichtspiel von Carl Mayer, Das Drehbuch, Band I (Potsdam, 
1924), pp. 9-11. 

Pordes, Victor E., Das Lichtspiel: Wesen — Dramaturgie — Regie, Wien, 

Porten, Henny, "Mein Leben," Ufa-Magazin, TL (Berlin, 22-28. April 
1927), Heft 17. 

Potamkin, Harry Alan, "Kino and Lichtspiel," Close Up, V (Territet, 

Switzerland, Nov. 1929), no. 6: 387-98. 
, "The Rise and Fall of the German Film," Cmema, I (New 

York, AprH 1930), no. 8: 24j-25, 57, 59. 
, "Pabst and the Social Fihn," Hownd ^ Horn, VI (New York, 

Jan.-March 1933), no. 2: 293-305. 
"Les Presentations de I'Alliance Cintoatographique Europ^enne," 

CinSa-Cini (Paris, 1^ Avril 1927), pp. 14-16. 
"Die Produktion des Jahres, Emelka-Konzern," Das grosse Bilderhuch 

des Films (Filmkurier: Berlin, 19250, pp. 161-78. 
Programs, program brochures, prospectuses, publicity booklets or 

sheets, etc., relating to various films: see Museum of Modem Art 

Library, New York, clipping files. In addition, I have used similar 

material in the possession of Dr. Kurt Pinthus, Washington, D. C. 
Pudovkin, V. I., Film Technique, London, 1933. 

Ray, Man, "Answer to a Questionnaire," Film Art, III (London, 1936), 
no. 7:9-10. 

"Der Regisseur F. W. Murnau," Ufa-Magazin, 1 (Berlin, 15.-21. Okt. 
1926), Heft 9. 

Reiniger, Lotte, "Lebende Schatten : Kunst u. Technik des Silhouetten- 


films," Film-Photos me noch nie (Frankfurt a.M., 1929), pp. 

Reviews of films : see Museum of Modern Art Library, clipping files. 
Richter, Hans, "Ur-Kino," Neue Ziircher Zeitung (^5. Feb. and 2, April 

Riefenstahl, Leni, Hinter den Kulissen des Reichsparfeitag Films, 
Miinchen, 1935. 

Robson, E. W. and M. M., The Fikn Answers Back, London, 19B9. 

Rohde, Alfred W., "German Propaganda Movies in Two Wars," Ameri- 
can Cinematographer, XXIV (Hollywood, Jan. 1943), no. 1: 10- 
11, 28. 

"Rose Bernd," National Board of Review Magazine, II (New York, 

Feb. 1927), no. 2:16. 
Rosenberg, Arthur, Geschichte der Deutschen Repuhlik, Karlsbad, 


Rotha, Paul, The FUm Till Now, London, 1980. 

^CeUidoid: The Film To-day, London, New York, Toronto, 


, Documentary Film, London, 1986. 

, "Plastic Design," Close Up, V (Territet, Switzerland, Sept. 

1929), no. 8:228-81. 

1 "It's in the Script," World FUm News, HI (London, Sept. 

1988), no. 5: 204-5. 

, "Carl Mayer, 1894-1944," Docwmentary News Letter, V (Lon- 
don, 1944), no. 8:89. 

"Rund um die Liebe," Film-Magasm (Berlin, 27. Jan. 1929), no. 4. 

Ruttmann, Walter, "La Symphonic du Monde," La Revuue du CinSma, 
n (Paris, I*'* Mars 1980), no. 8 : 48-45. 

Samuel, Richard, and Thomas, R. Hinton, Expressionism in German 
Life, Literature and the Theatre (1910-19^4,), Cambridge, Eng., 

"Saucy Suzanne," Close Up, I (Territet, Switzerland, Nov. 1927), 
no. 5:65-66. 

Schapiro, Meyer, "Nature of Abstract Art," Marxist Quarterly, I 

(New York, Jan.-March 1987), no. 1 : 77-98. 
, "A Note on Max Weber's Politics," Politics (New York, Feb. 

1945), pp. 44-48. 

Schlesinger, E. R., "Das modeme deutsche Lichtspieltheater," Das 
grosse BUderhuch des FUms (Filmkurier: Berlin, 1925^), 
p. 28. 

Schmalenbach, Fritz, "The Term Neu^ SacMichJceit,'' The Art Bulletin, 
XXn (New York, Sept. 1940), no. 8:161-66. 



Schwartzkopf, Rudolf, "Volksverband fxir Filmkunst," Close Up, Jl 

(Territet, Switzerland, May 19^8), no. 5:71-75. 
Schwarzschild, Leopold, World in Trance, New York, 1942. 
Seeber, Guido, "Szenen aus dem Film meines Lebens," Licht BUd Biihne, 

30 Jahre Film (Berlin, 19^4), pp. 15-19. 
"Shattered," Exceptional Photoplays, XL (New York, Jan.-Feb. 1922), 

bulletin no. 1 ; 4-6. 
"Silberkondor iiber Feuerland," Close Up, V (Territet, Switzerland, 

Dec. 1929), no. 6:642-43. 
"Skandal urn Eva," aose Up, VH (Territet, Switzerland, Sept. 1930), 

no. 3:221-22. 

Spottiswoode, Rajonond, A Grammar of the Film: An Analysis of Film 

Technique, London, 1935. 
Stenhouse, Charles E., "Die Wunder des Fihns," aose Up, IV (Territet, 

Switzerland, May 1929), no. 6 : 89-91. 
,«The World on Film," ibid., YI (May 1930), no. 6: 


, "A Contemporary," ibid., pp. 418-20. 

"The Street^^^' National Board of Review Magazine, II (New York, 

June 1927), no. 6:9-10. 
"Sturme der Leidenschaft," Filmwelt (Berlin, 27. Dez. 1931), no. 52. 

Tannenbaum, Eugen, "Der Grossfilm," Hugo Zehder, ed., Der Film von 

Morgen, Berlin-Dresden, 1923), pp. 61-72. 
"Tartuffe, the Hypocrite," National Board of ^Review Magazine, III 

(New York, May 1928), no. 5 : 5-6. 
Tazelaar, Marguerite, "Morgenrot," New York Herald Tribune, May 

16, 1933. 

Thomalla, Curt, "Der Kulturfilm," Das grosse BUderbuch des Films 
(Fihnkurier: BerHn, 1925F), pp. 23-27. 

BUderbuch'Uia,^' Das grosse des Films (Fihnkurier: Berlin, 1925f), 
pp. 323-80. 

"Ufa, Das grosse BUderbuch des Films (Fihnkurier: Berlin, 1926), 
pp. 157-206. 

Ufa, Kultur-FUme, Berlin. [Catalogs, issued Jan. 1929, June 1929, Jan. 
1930, March 1930, Oct. 1930, March 1931, Feb. 1932, July 1932, 
Jan. 1933.] 

Ufa Verleih'Programme, Berlin, 1923; 1923/24; 1924/26. [These illus- 
trated volumes include short synopses of various films.] 

Ullman, James Ramsay, The White Tower, Philadelphia and New York, 
1945. [A novel.] 



Veidt, Conrad, "Mein Leben," Ufa-Magazin, II (Berlin, 14.-20. Jan. 
1927), Heft 8. 

Vertov, Dziga, "Dziga Verlov on Film Technique," Filmfronty I (New 

York, Jan. 28, 1985), no. 8:7-9. 
Vincent, Carl, Histoire de VArt Cmematographique> Bruxelles, 1989. 

Wagner, Fritz Arno, "I Believe in the Sound Film," FUm Art, 111 

(London, 2nd quarter, 1986), no. 8: 8-12. 
"Was ist los?" Ufa-Magazin, II (Berlin, 4.-10. Feb. 1927), Heft 6. 

, ibid. (8.-14. April 1927), Heft 15. 

yihid. (15.-21. April 1927), Heft 16. 

Watts, Richard, Jr., "Madchen in Uniform," New York Herald Tribune, 
Sept. 21, 1982. 

, "Luise, Queen of Prussia," ibid., Oct. 5, 1982. 

, "The King's Dancer," ibid., Oct. 27, 1982. 

, "York," ibid., Nov. 24, 1982. 

, "Kuhle Wampe," ibid., April 25, 1988. 

Weinberg, Herman G., Scrapbooks of film reviews and illustrations. 
8 vols. [I: 1925-27; II: 1927; III: 1928,] [In the Museum of 
Modern Art Library, New York. Clippings are mostly undated.] 

, "Fritz Lang," Program to The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse, 

issued by World Theatre, New York, March 19, 1943. 

, An Index to the Creative Work of Fritz Lang, Special Supple- 
ment to "Sight and Sound," Index Series No. 5, London, Feb. 1946. 

, An Index to the Creative Work of Two Pioneers: I. Robert J. 

Flaherty; II. Hans Richter, Special Supplement to "Sight and 
Sound," Index Series No. 6, London, May 1946. 

Weiss, Trude, "Mutter Krausen's Fahrt ins Gliick," Close Up, VI 
(Territet, Switzerland, April 1980), no. 4:818-21. 

,"The Secret of the Egg-Shell," ibid. (May 1980), no. 5: 


,"A Starring Vehicle," ibid., VII (Nov. 1980), no. 5:SSS-S5. 

, "Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien!" ibid., VIII (London, 

June 1981), no. 2: 149^50. 
^, "Sonne uber dem Arlberg," ibid., IX (March 1982), no. 1: 


, "The Blue Light," ibid. (June 1982), no. 2: 119-22. 

, "Das keimende Leben," ibid. (Sept. 1982), no. 8: 207-8. 

,"The First Opera-Film," ibid. (Dec. 1982), no. 4:242-45. 

, "Elizabeth Bergner Again," ibid., pp. 254-56. 

"Der weisse Rausch," Filmwelt (Berlin, 20. Dez. 1981), no. 51. 
Weniger, Erich, "Die Jugendbewegung und ihre kulturelle Auswirkung," 



Dt. Erasmus, ed., Geist der Gegenwart (Stuttgart, 19S8), pp. 

Wesse, Curt, Grossmacht FUm, Das Geschopf von Ktmst und Technik, 
Berlin, 1928. 

Weyher, <Ruth, *'Wir drehen in Paris," Ufa-Magazm, II (Berlin, 25.-S1. 

Marz 1927), Heft 13. 
White, Kenneth, "Film Chronicle: F. W. Murnau," Hound ^ Horn, IV 

(New York, July-Sept. 1931), no. 4: 581-84. 
"The White Hell of Piz Palu," Close Up, V (Territet, Switzerland, 

Dec. 1929), no. 6:543-45. 
"Wissen Sie schon?" Das grosse Bilderbuck des Films (Filmkurier: 

Berlin, 1926), p. 145. 

Zaddach, Gerhard, Der liferarische Film. Em Beitrag zur Geschichte 
der Lichtspielkunsf, Inaugural Dissertation, Breslau, Berlin, 1929. 

Zimmereimer, Kurt, Die Filmzensur, Abhandlungen der Rechts- und 
Staatswissenschaftlichen Fakultat der Universtat Konigsberg 
(Breslau-Neukirch, 1934), Heft 5. 

"Zuflucht," Ofa-Leih, Berlin. [An undated brochure.] 



Abekteueb eines Zehnkarkschexns, Die, 

181-82, 211 
Abraham, Karl, 170 

abstract art, 68, 68 n., 194, 210 n., 802-8. 

See also abstract films 
abstract fllmLS, 68 n., 188, 210 n., 211 n. 

See also abstract art 
Absturz, 128 
Abweoe, 178 
Abyss, see Aforttkdek 
Accident, see tJTBERFALL 
AcHT Madels im Boot, 266-67; Illus. 68 
AcHTUKG, LxEBE — Lebeksoefahr, 196x1. 
Adalbert, Max, 206 n., 229 
adolescence, 160-61, 162, 268, 272 
adventure films, 66-67, 188-89 
Adventxtres op a Ten-Mark Note, see 

Abentbtter exnes Zehnmarkscheins, 


Aforxtnden, 26 

Albers, Hans, 8-9, 214 j Illus. 44 
Alles dreht sxch, Alubs beweot sxch, 
211 n. 

Alles ftJr Geu), 128 n. 
Aix FOR A WoACAN, See Danton (1921) 
All for Monet, see Alleb fur Geld 
AUgeier, Sepp, 110, 260, 262, 262 n. 
All Quiet on the Western Front, 68, 

206, 282 
Alraune, 168-64 
alte Gesetz, Das, 127 n. 
Alt Heidelberg, 68 

America, 18, 67, 168, 169, 170, 190, 198, 
248; A. film industry, 4, 6-6, 26, 101, 
104, 126, 188-84, 186, 144, 148, 174, 190, 
204, 216, 242, 266; A. films and film 
trends, 4, 16, 16, 17, 19, 20^21, 28, 26, 
82, 86, 87, 62, 68 69, 78, 92, 101, 102, 
126, 136, 188, 144, 169, 170, 181, 184, 
190, 206-6, 216, 282, 242, 266, 289; recep- 
tion of German films in A., 8, 4, 61-62, 
68, 72, 80, 102, 104, 106, 122, 126, 126 n., 
141, 148, 160, 207, 227-28, 246, 268, 
264, 267, 270, 288; reception of A. 
films in Germany, 4-6, 16, 20-21, 68, 80, 

92, 101, 186, 174, 206. See also New 

Amiguet, Fr6d.-Ph., 51 
Ancient Law, The, see alte Gesets!, 

Andere, Der, 83-84, 122 

Anders als die Andern, 46 

Andra, Fern, 24 

Andrejew, Andrej, 287 

Anna Boleyn, 49-60, 61, 64, 67 

Anna Karenina, 190 

Anna und Elisabeth, 229 n. 

Anthem of Leitthen, The, see Choral 

VON Lexithen, Der 
anti-Semitism, 46, 68, 804r-6. See also Jews 
Apollinaire, Guillaume, 26 
Arabella, 166 
Arxane, 161, 

aristocracy, 9, 38, 226, 228, 268 
Armored Vault, The, see Panzeroe- 

wolbe. Das 
Arnheim, Rudolf, 88, 220 n. 
Arsenal, 284 

Asphalt, 168-69, 187, 190, 196, 252 
Assassination of the Dug de Gthse, The 

(original title: Assassin at du dug de 

Guise), 17 
Atlantic, 204-6 
Atlantide, 242 
Atlantis, see Atlantide 
At the Edge of the Would, see Rande 

DER Welt, Am 
Aufbruch, SQS9 

Aus eines Mannes Madchenjahren, 46 


Austreibung, 106, 106 n. 

Austria, 61-62, 141, 216, 260-61, 265, 267- 
68, 269; A. films, 281; reception of 
German films in A., 167 

authoritarianism, 18-19, 37, 60, 62, 64-66, 
67, 71, 72, 86, 94r-95, 100, 112, 117-19, 
121-22, 124, 124 n., 187, 168, 164-66, 160, 
162, 164, 166-67, 186, 187, 191, 192, 195, 
216, 222, 226, 227, 228-29, 280-31, 241, 
261, 262, 266, 271 

Avalanche, see Sturme ■Qwejl dem Mont- 






Axelson, George, 306 

Backstajbs, see Hintertreppe 

Baldzs, B61a, 78, 80, 109 n., 181, 189, 191 n., 

211, 258 
Balkans, the, 87, 68, 805 
Balzac, Honor6 de, 88 
Bamberger, Rudolf, 108 
Bang, Hermann, Michael, 128 
Banky, Vilma, 261 
Bapxessi op Fire, see Feuertaupe 
Baranovskaia, Vera, 196 
Barbehina, die Tanzerin VON Sanssouci, 

267, 268, 269 
Barr, Alfred H., Jr., 166, 165 n. 
Barry, Iris, 94 n., 168-69, 176 
Basse, WUfried, 188 
Bassermann, Albert, 25, 84 n. 
Bateson, Gregory, 262, 262 n. 
Bavaria, 111, 261. 866 also Munich 
Beaumont, Count Etienne de, 76 
Beavee Coat, The, see BrsEapELZ, Dee 
Beer-Hofmann, Richard, 110 
BzaoAa's Opeba^ The, see Drexoeoschen- 

OFEB, Die 
Beggar's Pride, The, 15 
Behrendt, Hans, 146, 253 
Belgium, 284, 288, 297, 806, 816, 817, 

Benolt, Pierre, 242 

Bergdes Schicksals, 111-12; Illus. 17 
Berge nsr Flammen, 260-61, 268, 270, 271 
Berger, Ludwig, 107, 186, 141, 141 n., 207 
Bergkatze, Die, 58 
Bergner, Elisabeth, 125, 151, 161, 256 
Berlin, 16, 16, 24, 26, 82, 48, 58, 62, 68, 73, 
88, 116, 126, 127 n., 148, 166, 178 n., 
188-84, 185, 187, 188, 189, 196, 196 n., 
197, 208, 206 n., 209, 212, 218, 223-24, 
226, 281, 242, 248, 244, 264, 266, 258, 
262, 268, 269, 276 n., 276, 297, 804; B. 
stage, 17, 28, 68 n., 192, 288; B. movie 
theaters, 46, 48, 71, 182, 214; B. local 
fJms, 189, 206, 206 n. 
Berun-Alexanderplatz, 228-24 
Bebmn, dee Stmphonie einer Grossstadt, 
186, 182-88, 194, 196, 209, 223; lUus. 
87, 88, 89 
Berliner Tagehlatt, 116 
BerlhTj The Symphony of a Great Cmr, 
see Bermn, die Symphonie einer 
Bernhardt, Kurt, 264, 268 

Bettauer, Hugo, 167 
BiiiERFELZ, Der, 146 

Big Jump, The, see grosse Sprung, Deb 
Bild- und Filmamt, see Bufa 
bioscop, 16, 70 
Bismarck, 61, 155, 206-7, 299 
Bismarck, 155 n., 206-7 
BiJicK Hussar, see sctiwarze Husar. 

Blakeston, Oswell, 182, 182 n. 

BiAUB Engel, Der, 215-18, 220, 222, 223, 

225; Illus. 45, 46 
BLAUE Light, Das, 268-59, 260; Illus. 62 
Blitzkrieg im Westen, 275, 275 n., 281, 

281 n. 

Blitzkrieg in the West, see Blitzkrieg 

IM Westen 
Blitzzug der Liebe, 189 
Blond Dream, see blonder Traum, Ein 
blonder Traum, Ein, 212 
Blue Angel, The, see blaue Engel, Der 
Blue Light, The, see blaue Light, Das 
Bocklin, Arnold, 98 
Boehnel, William, 258, 268 n. 
Bbhme, Margarete, 179 
bolshevism, 77, 178, 176, 176, 177. See also 



Brasillach, Robert, 186 
Brecht, Bert, 219, 286, 243, 244 
Brennender Acker, 78 
Broncho Bill, 20 

Brothers Karamazov, The, see Bruder 

Karamasoff, Die 
Bruder Karamasoff, Die, 109 n., 261 
Bruder Schellenberg, Die, 123 
Brunlng, Heinrich, 208, 206 
Bryher, 193, 198 n., 242, 243, 243 n. 
BUchner, Georg, 96 
Buchowetski, Dimitri, 60, 185, 268 
BucHSE dee Pandora, Die, 178-79 
Bufa, 36, 86 

Burning Soil, see Brennender Acker 

Cabinet des Dr. Caugabi, Das, 8, 3 n., 
61-76, 77, 79, 82, 88, 84, 86, 86 n., 87, 88, 
96, 101, 109, 110, 120, 122; main char- 
acters; Caligari, 68-74, 81-82, 88, 86, 87, 
110, 221-22, 248, 272; Cesare, 68 ff., 82, 
87, 221-22, 272; lUus. 2, 8, 4 

Cabibia, 47 

Cadets, see Kadetten 

Caligari, see Cabinet des Dr. Cauoari, 

Caligarisme, 71 £F. 



camera mobUity, 4, 104-6, 127, 146, 148, 

175-76, 205, 256, 279, 801, 802 
Campaign in Poland, see Feldzito ik 


Canudo, 51 

Captain of Kopenigk, The, see Haupt- 


Cablos vnfD Elisabeth, 128 n. 
Carhen, 48 

Carmen von St.-Pattli, Die, 158 
Cassou, Jean, 75 

CathoHcism, 18, 44-45, 107, 108, 272. See 

also Christianity 
Cavalcanti, Alberto, 182 
censorship, 44, 47, 58, 198, 195, 196, 206, 

207, 209, 245 
Chaplin, Charles, 28 
Charrcll, Eric, 208 
Chevalley, Freddy, 209, 209 n, 
Chiudren of No Importance, see Unehe- 

Chmara, Gregori, 109, 254 
Choral von Leuthen, Der, 267, 268, 269; 

Ulus. 68 

Christianity, 20, 98, 107, 10&-10, 209, 284. 

See also Catholicism 
Christians, Mady, 264 n. 
Chronicles of the Gray House, see 

Chronik von Grieshuvs 
Chronik von Grieshxjus, 106 
Cinderella, see verlorene Schuh, Der 
circus iihns, 140, 140 n. 
civilization, 19, 58-59, 78, 101, 119, 178, 

198, 268, 807, 825 
Clair, Ren6, 68 n., 141, 194, 211 
Close Up, 4, 175 
Cobl, £mile, 16 

Comedy of the Heart, see Kom3uie des 

communism, 10, 68, 107, 116, 160, 178-74, 
185, 192, 208, 248, 247, 262, 801. See also 
Comradeship, see Kameradschaft 
concentration camps, 72, 218, 805 
Congress Dances, see Kongress tanzt, 

Coxtntess of Monte Cristo, The, see 
Grakn von Monte Christo, Die 

Count of Charolais, The, see Graf von 
Charolais, Der 

Crime and PuNisHMEiirT, tee Raskol- 


Crisis, see Abwegk 

crossrsection films, 181-89, 198, 194, 

Crxtisbr Bmden, see Kreuzer Emdsn 

Cser^py, Arzfen von, 115, 267 
Czinner, Paul, 125, 266 


Dacho, 289 

Dame mit der Maske, Die, 194 n. 
Danton (1921), 50-51, 58, 55, 268 
Danton (1981), 258-54, 262 
Danzig, 264, 266, 281, 288, 806, 808-9, 

Davidson, Paul, 17, 22, 26, 86, 44, 48, 

Dawn, see Morgenrot 
Deception, see Anna Boleyn 
Decla, see Decla-Bioscop 
Decla-Bioscop, 65, 70, 71, 88, 91 ff. 
De MUle, Cecil 28 
Deming, Barbara, 7 

democracy, 10, 11, 19-20, 88, 87, 88, 52, 
114, 116, 124 n., 184, 187, 162, 178, 174, 
190, 192, 224r-26, 228, 251, 254, 268, 278, 
288, 289, 290, 294 

Denmark, fihn industry, 22, 26, 86; D. 
films and film trends, 26, 59; reception 
of D. fihns in Germany, 20 

Destiny, see mtde Tod, Der 

detective figure, the, 19-20, 226, 249. See 
also mystery films 

detective films, see mystery films 

Deulig, 85, 87, 47 

Deutsche Bank, 86, 188 

Deutsche Fihn Gemeinschaft, 226 

Deutsche LicktspieUGeseUschaft, see Deu- 

Deutsche Liga fUr unabh&ngigen Film, 
see German League for Independent 

Dexjtschi^nd von Gestern und Heute, 

Diagonal Symphony, 68 n. 

Diary of a Lost One, see Tagebuch 


Diaz, P., 27 

Dickens, Charles, 88, 256 

Dieterle, WiUiam, 84 

Dietrich, Marlene, 216, 217; lUus. 46 

Different from the Others, see Anders 

ALs die Andern 
Dimov, Ossip, 125 

DirnentragSdie, 157-59, 187, 196, 197 

Doblin, Alfred, 228 

Dr. Bessel's Verwandlung, 191 n. 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr, Byde, 88, 78 

Dr. Mabube, der Spieler, 81-84, 86, 87, 
88, 150, 248, 250; main character: 
Mahuse, 81 ff., 85, 150, 248, 249, 272; 



Illus. 6. See also TEsxAsiEirT des Db. 
Mabuse, Das 

Dr. MabusEj the Gakbler, gee Dn. 
Mabxjse, beb Spieler 

documentary films, 28, 85, 47, 81, 82, 84, 
111, 141-43, 161 ff., 166, 169, 172, 1T6, 
181, 182, 186, 186, 188, 197, 206, 209, 219, 
228, 226, 266, 258, 276, 288, 289, 290, 
292 n., 806. See also Kulturfilme 

Doll, The, see Puppe, Die 

DoLLT macht Kabeiere, 218 n. 

Dolly's Cabeee, see Dolly jaL^cHT 


141 n. 

Dona Jtjaka, 161, 161 n. 
DoK Cablos, 18 
Don Quixote, 248 

Don't Play ttixh Love, see Man spielt 

NIGHT mr beb Liebz 
Doomed Battalion, The, see Bebge in 


Dostoievsky, Feodor Mikhailovich, 88, 

109-10, 261, 262 
Dovzhenko, Alexander, 177, 189, 284, 802 
Downfall, see Abstijbz 
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, 19, 150 n. 
Dheaming Mouth, The, see traumbnde 

MuNB, Deb 
dbei Codonas, Die, 140 n. 
IDreigroscheno'per, Die, 219 
Dbeioboschenopeb, Die, 286-89; Illus. 54 
Dbei Taoe Mittelabbest, 206 n. 
Dbei von deb Stempelstelle, Die, 211-12 
Dbei von deb Tankstelle, Die, 207, 212; 

Illus. 41 
Dresden, 46, 66 

Dbiven fbom Home, see AusntEiBtTNO 
Duce, 11, see Mussolini 
Dudow, S. Th., 245, 246 
Dupont, E. A., 127, 127 n., 186, 140, 176, 
176, 206 


Eclair, 28 

Eggeling, Viking, 68 n. 
Ehrenburg, Ilya, 178, 174, 294 
Eipebsttcht, 166, 171 n. 
Eight Girls in a Boat, see Acht Madxls 
iM Boot 

Eisenstein, Sergei M., 178, 174, 176, 196, 

199, 290, 292 
Eisler, Hanns, 248 
Ekel, Das, 206 n. 


Emden, The, see Ejuguzeb Emden (1926) 

Emelka, 270 n. 

Emil und die Detektive, 224-26, 227; 
lUus. 60 

employees, 11, 128, 181-82, 144, 149, 189, 
218, 271 

End of St. Petebsbubg, The, 180, 290 
Engel, Erich, 213 

England, 19-20, 38, 49, 62, 216, 229 n., 286, 
269-70, 276, 280, 283, 284, 287, 288, 291, 
298, 298 n., 297, 304, 806, 817, 319-21, 
824, 326 J E. film industry, 186; E. films 
and film trends, 26, 205, 229 n., 277, 288, 
286, 287, 289, 298, 828; reception of 
German films in E., 160, 150 n., 167. See 
also London 

Erwachen des Weibes, Das, 144 n. 

Es webde Light, 44 

ES WIBD schon wiedeb besser, 218 

Eva Scandai., The, see Skandal ttm Eva 

Evebything Revolves, see Alles dbeht 
SIGH, Alles bewegt sigh 

Ewers, Hanns Heinz, 28-29, 168 

Explosion, 240 n. 

expressionism, 88, 68, 66, 68, 68 n., 69-71, 
76, 79, 82, 85, 87, 96, 97, 101 ff., 104, 
117, 117 n., 120, 124, 127, 160, 162, 

ExpBEss Train of Love, see Buxzzuo 


Eyes op the Mummy, The, see Mumie 
Ma, Die 


fair (amusement park), 26, 62, 78-74, 

84r-87, 110, 121, 126 
Fairbanks, Douglas, 25, 91 
Falk, Norbert, 49 

Fanck, Arnold, 110, 111, 112, 155, 156 n., 

267, 269 
Farrell, James T., 109 
Farr^re, Qaude, 254 
fascism, 166, 204 

fate, 21, 88, 89-91, 98, 95, 97, 104, 106, 151, 

181, 261, 267 
Fatty (Roscoe Arbuclde), 20 
Faust, 29, 328, 148 ff., 285. See also Goethe 
Faust, 14&-49 
Feininger, Lyonel, 69, 69 n, 

FELD2fUfl IN POLEN, 276 D. 

Feme, 48, 254 
Feueb, Das, 128 n. 

Feuebtaupe, 165, 267, 276, 276 n., 276, 

278-97, 308-Sl 
Feyder, Jacques, 186 
Film d'Art, 17 

film reformers, 18 n., 18-19, 21-22 



Film Society, The, London, Programmes, 

79, 192, 192 n., 209 n,, 211 n., 288 
FxNANZEN DES Gbossiierzoos, DiE, 102 n. 
FinE, The, see Fetter, Das 
Fischinger, Oskar, 210 n., 211 n. 
Flaherty, Robert F., 289 
Flamme, Die, 125 

FLOTENKOlTZEaT VON Sakssouci, Das, 206, 
267, 268 

Flute Concert at Sans Souci, The, see 

Flotenkonzert VON Sanbsouci, Das 
Fjrfnss, Olaf, 82 

Forster, Rudolf, 269; Illus. 64 

For the Sake op the Rights op Man, 

see Um das Menschenrecht 
Foe Us, see FidR Uns 
Fox Europe, 186, 181, 182 
Fox Hunt in the Enoadine, see Fuchs- 


F. p. 1 Does Not Answer, see F. P. 1 


France, 16-17, 88, 61-52, 68, 116, 119, 199, 
216, 232-88, 285, 289-41, 248, 248 n., 258, 
261-62, 263-64, 268, 284, 286-87, 288, 
291, 292, 294, 297, 804, 811-12, 819-20, 
822-28, 824, 826, 829-80; F. lUm indus- 
try, 17, 22, 23, 189; F. fUxDS and fihn 
trends, 16, 16-17, 19, 21, 28, 28, 59, 68 n., 
186, 138, 166, 182, 184, 211, 248; recep- 
tion of German films in F., 8, 4, 26, 51, 
71-72, 89, 160, 167, 217; reception of F. 
films in Germany, 15, 19, 20; F. Revo- 
lution, 88, 48, 49, 50-51, 58, 76, 268; 
Negroes in P. army, 279, 284, 297, 811- 
12, 819, 820, 822, 828; Maginot Line, 
284, 286-87, 294, 811, 822-28. See also 

Frank, Bruno, 265 

Frank, Leonhard, 191,^85 

Frankfurter ZeUunff, 124 n., 187, 247 n. 

Frauen, die der Abgrund verschungx, 

F&AU IM MoKD, Die, 16 L 

FrIxtlxin Else, 161 

Frattxxin Juixe, 106, 106 n. 

FrIxtuexn Mutter, 46 

Freckdachsi, Dee, 206 n. 

Frederick the Gteat, 115-19, 128, 124, 156, 

158, 226, 227, 266-69; lUus. 20, 68. See 

also FridericuB films 
Free Trip, see Freie Fahrt 
Freeman, Joseph, Never OaU Betreca, 72 
Freie Fahet, 194 
Freiheit, 116 
Freikorps, 48, 264, 292 n. 


Freud, Sigmund, 170 

PREUDLOSE Gasse, Die, 167, 167-70, 172-78, 

176, 177; lUus. 29, 81, 82 
Freund, Karl, 99-100, 127, 127 n., 148, 181, 

182-88, 192 
Fridericus, see Frederick the Great 
Frideuicus, 267 

Fridericus fihns, 116-19, 122, 141, 156, 206, 
266-69. See also national films and 
Frederick the Great 

Fridericus Rex, 115-19, 267; Illus. 20 

Proelich, Carl, 24, 109 n., 226, 263, 267 

froliche Weinberg, Der, 140 

From the Verge op the Swascp, see 


Fromm, Erich, 11 
Fruhlings Erwachen, 161, 161 n. 
Fuchsjagd IM Engadin, 110 
Ftihrer, the, see Hitler, Adolf 
Fur Uns, 806 


Gad, Urban, 26 
Gade, Sven, 94 n. 

Galeen, Henrik, 30 n., 81, 77, 78, 78 n., 84, 

84 n., 158 
Gance, Abel, 166 
Garbo, Greta, 167, 168 
Gassenhauer, 211 
Gaumont, 22, 28 

Gay, John, The Begga/r^s Opera, 286 
Gat Vineyard, The, see prohuche 

Weinberg, Dee 
Gebtihr, Otto, 116-17, 156, 266, 267. See 

also Frederick the Great 
Geheimnisse einee Seele, 170-72; Illus. 


Geioer von Florxnz, Dee, 161 
Geiselgasteig, 186 

Geld liegt aup der Strasse, Das, 218 

Gel^bde der Eeuchhxit, 44-46, 46 

Geneva, 51 

Genuine, 96 

George, Heinrich, 228 

George VI, 804 

Gerlach, Arthur von, 80 

Grerman East Africa, 57 

German film industry, 4, 6 n., 16, 16, 17 ff., 
20, 22, 24, 86^7, 89, 45, 65, 182-84, 
185^6, 141-42, 194, 204, 248; propa- 
ganda measures in pre-Hitler Ger- 
many, 85-87, 47, 51, 68 n., 71, 188; 
propaganda measures under Hitler, 

German League for Independent Film, 
198, 194 



Germinatiko Life, see Keimendes Leben 

Geschlecht isr Fesselk, 145 

Gessler, Otto, 184 

GsSTTirxEKEsr, Die, 144 n. 

Ghosts Before Breakfast, see Vobmit- 


GxFTOAS, 196 n. 

GiEL Am) THE Men, The, see Madchen 

uxD die Manner, Das 
Girl in the Moon, The, see Frau im 

MoND, Die 
Glass op Water, A, see GftAS Wasseb, 


Gias Wassee, Ein, 107-8; lUus. 16 
Goebbels, Joseph, 92, 164, 248, 249, 277, 

289-90, 299-800, 802 
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 148, 285 
Golem, Dee (1915), 81-88 
GousM, Dee (1920), 112-18; lUus. 18 
Gounod, Charles Francois, 148 
Gbafin von Monte Christo, Die, 218-14 
Geaf von Chasolais, Der, 110 
GkAND Ditke's Finances, The, tee 


Gpanovsky, Alexis, 209, 210 n. 
Grau, Albin, 118 
Graz, 61-62 
Gbeed, 170 

Griffith, D. W., 28, 61, 63 n., 169-70, 181 

Groener, Wilhehm, 184 

obosse Speuno, Dee, 155 d. 

Grune, Karl, 119, 128, 166, 157, 168, 159, 

171 n., 173 n., 186, 218, 240 264 n. 
Qyfst Blood, see CAEidOBN 


Hafker, Hermann, 22, 28 

Hamburg, 26, 61-62, 197 

Hamilton, James Shelley, 210, 210 n^ 286 

Mamlet, 147 

Hamlet, 94 n. 

Hands of Oelac, The, see Obxjic's Hands 
Hanokan of St.-Maeien, The, see 

Henkee von St.-Maeien, Dee 
Hans Westuas, 292 n. 
Habboe Drift, see Jenseits dee Stbasse 
Harbou, Thea von, 81, 88, 92, 98, 151, 168, 


Harsch, Joseph C, Pattern of Conquest, 

Hsjrtlaub, Gustav, 165, 166 
Harvey, Lilian, 208 
Hasendever, Walter, 68 n. 
Hauptmann, Carl, 70, 71, 97, 106 
Hauptmami, Gerhard 70, 106, 124, 146, 

Hauptmann von K6penick, Dee, 229-80 
Hedda Gabeee, 168 n. 
Hegemann, Werner, Frederick the Great, 

Heidelberg, 58, 140 

Heilige Berg, Dee, 112, 155, 259 

Heimkehr, 191 

Heimweh, 140 

Helena, 128 n. 

Hell on Earth, see Niemandsland 
Helm, Brigitte, 158, 178, 191, 218 
Henkee von St.-Maeien, Dee, 110 
Herein dee Welt, Die, 66, 67 
Hesse, Lieutenant, 288-89 
High Treason, see Hochvereat 
Hildebrandt, Paul, 97 
Hinteetreppe, 97, 101, 302 
Hirschfeld, Magnus, 45 
historical pageants, 47-^6, 67, 89, 128, 
128 n. 

Hitchcock, Alfred, 150 

HiUer, Adolf, 9, 14, 24, 82, 72-78, 84, 
94 ff., 107, 116, 186, 162, 164, 188, 208-4, 
229, 281, 286, 248, 249, 257, 258, 262, 264, 
265, 266 n., 267, 269-70, 271, 272, 280-82, 
285, 287, 289, 290, 292, 298-94, 800, 801, 
802, 805, 807 

HiTLEEjiTNOE QuEX, 160, 262-68, 288, 
292 n. 

Hitler Youth, 160, 218, 262, 288, 292 n., 

Hochvereat, 140 n. 

Hoffmann, E. T. A., 29, 64, 79, 168 

Hoffmann, Karl, 205 

Hofmannsthal, Hugo von, 18 

HoQand, 87, 295, 805, 819 

Hollander, Felix, 126 

Hollywood, see America, A. film industry, 

and A. films and film trends 
Holy Mountain, The, see Heiuge Berg, 


HoMECOMiNa, see Heimkehb 
Homesickness, see Heimweh 
homosexuality, 88, 46, 82, 128 
Homunculus, 81-88, 68, 74, 110; main 

character: Homunculus, 82-88, 84, 72, 

80, 110, 164, 168, 272 
Horkheimer, Max, 10 n. 
Hose, Die, 146 
Hubert, Kurt, 276 

Hugenberg, Alfred, 188-84, 208, 264, 266, 

Hugo, Victor, 178 

HuNGABXAN Rhapsodt, see Ungaeische 

Husbands oe Lovers?, see Njtt 
Ht4N£N dee Lust, 44 




Ibsen, Henrik, 158 

immaturity, 83, 99, 112, 114, 118, 162, 171, 
218, 222, 267 

In dee Nacht, 210 n. 

IiTDiAN Tomb, The, see Ikdische Grab- 
MAL, Das 

Ikdische Gbabual, Das, 56 

inferiority complex, 32-38. 80, 119, 122, 
123, 171, 267 

inflation, 10, 67, 69, 108, 181, 132, 186, 167, 
169, 170, 181, 194, 194 n., 199, 810 

Inflatxok, 194, 194 n. 

I. N. R. I., 109 

Iks Dbiite Reich, 206 

instinct films, 96-106, 107, 118, 119, 121, 
126, 164, 177, 198, 217 

intelUgentsia, 16, 20, 88, 67, 96, 107, 117, 
119, 160, 170, 192, 246, 271 

Isn't Life Wonderful?, 169, 181 

Italy, 64, 166, 204, 268-69, 260-61; I. films 
and film trends, 16, IT, 20, 47, 62; recep- 
tion of German films in I., 167; recep- 
tion of I. films in Germany, 16, 20, 


Jacobs, Lewis, 68, 68 n. 

Jacques, Norbert, 81 

Jahier, Valerio, 168 n., 205 n. 

Jannings, Emil, 26, 44, 48, 86, 100, 126, 

126, 127, 128 n., 136, 148, 216, 217-18, 

224 n.; lUus. 14, 28, 26, 46 
Janowitz, Hons, 61, 61 n., 62-68, 64-66, 

66, 66 n., 67, 68 n., 70, 72, 78, 74, 76, 

76 n. 

Janus-Faced, tee Januskopp 
Januskopf, 78, 128 
Japan, 124 

Jealousy, see Eifersucwt 
Jeanne, Ren£, 186 

JeNSEXTS deb SlSASSE, 197 

Jessner, Leopold, 97 

Jews, 24, 81, 46, 112-18, 186, 286, 304-6, 

811. See also anti-Semitism 
Johannsen, Ernst, Viet von der In- 

fanterte, 282 
Joinville, 6 

JoruBss SmEET, The, tee freudlose 

Gasse, Die 
Jugendhewegung, see Youth Movement 
J UNOEs Blut, 161 n. 
Junghans, Carl, 196 
Jutzi, Piel, 197, 228, 242 


Kadetten, 280-81 

Kaiser, the, 80, 128, 146, 194, 229-80 
Kaiser, Georg, 124 
Kalbus, Oskar, 24, 62, 172, 172 n. 
Kallen, Horace M., 7 
Kamebadschaft, 239-42, 271; lUus. 65, 66 
Kampf Der Teetla, Dee, 160; Illus. 80 
Kampf des Donald Westhop, Dee, 161 
Kampf mix den Bergen, Im, 110 
Kampf ums Mattebhorn, Deb, 155 n. 
Kaeama^ov, see Mordeb Dimitei Kaha- 

Kastner, Erich, 224 
Keaton, Buster, 21 
Kexmendes Leben, 44 
Kiepura, Jan, 208 

Kino's Dancer, The, see Babberina, die 

Tanzebin von Sanssouci 
Klein, C^are, 96 
Kleist, Heinrich von, 117 
Klopfer, Eugen, 120 
KoFFEB. DES Heren O. F., Die, 210 n. 
Kohlhiesl's Dauohtees, see Kohlhiesl's 


Kohlhiesl's TSchter, 128 

KoMODXE des Herzens, 128 

KoNOBESS TANZT, Deb, 128, 208 

KoNiGiN LuiSE, 166, 264 n. 

KoPFiTBEE INS Gli&CK, 206 n. 

Kortner, Fritz, 261, 263 

Kracauer, Siegfried, 11, 187, 199, 246, 

247 n. 
Kraiy, Hans, 49, 186 
Kraszna^Krausz, A., 189 
Krauss, Werner, 26, 69, 69 n., 86, 98, 109, 

146, 168, 170, 212, 264; lUus. 2, 81, 48 
Kreuzee Emden (1926), 156-66, 260, 

270 n. 

Keeuzee Emden (1982), 270 n. 

Keeuzzug des Wexbes, 146 

Khiemihud's Rache (Keiemhiud's Re- 
venge), see NiBELUNGEN, Die 

Krupp, 160 

Kubin, Alfred, 67 

KuHLE Wampe, 248-47; lUus. 67 

JMtiirfilme, 141-48, 161-52, 166, 186, 188, 
193, 206, 206 n., 208 


Kurtz, Rudolf, 76 
Kyser, Hans, 148 


Lady Hamilton, 65, 66 n. 
Lady Julia, see Frauiein Juue 


Lady with the Mask, The, see Dame 


Lampel, Peter Martin, 196, 196 n. 
Lamprecht, Gerhart, 148, 224, 268. 
Land, Robert, 161 

Lang, Fritz, 66, 56 n., 65, 66, 81, 88, 84, 
88, 89 n., 91, 94 n., 186, 186, 149-61, 162, 
164, 205, 206 n., 218-19, 220, 221, 223, 

Last Command, The, 216 

Last CoMPAarr, The, see letzte Kom- 
PA02TIE, Die 

Lastee der Meztschheit, 158 n. 

Last Laugh, The, see letzte Mann, Der 

Last Will of Dr. Mabuse, The, see Tes- 
tament DE3 Dr. Mabuse, Das 

League of Nations, 288, 824 

Lederer, Francis, 191 

L^ger, Femand, 68 n., 194 

Leipzig, 20, 46 

Lejeune, C. A., 26 n., 66, 164 

Leni, Paul, 86, 186 

Lenin, Vladimir Hylch, 48, 186 

Leningrad, 296, 804 

Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, Nathan the 
Wise, 68 

Let There Be Light, see Es werde 

LETZTE Kompaonie, Die, 268, 270 
laiTZTE Mann, Der, 4, 96, 99-102, 108» 

104, 106-6, 127, 147, 218; Illus. 14, 16 
liberalism, 19-20, 128, 167 
lAeht Bild Buhne, 102, 102 n., 276, 298 
LiEBE, 161 n. 

LiEBE DEE Jeanne Key, Die, 136, 169, 
172-78 J lUus. 84, 86, 86 

LlEBEIEI, 281 


Liebesbriefe der Baronin S., 128 


Liebknecht, Karl, 48 
Liedtke, Harry, 48 

Lied vom Leben, Das, 209-10, 211, 216; 

Illus. 42 
LiuoM, 248 n. 
Lindau, Paul, 88 
Linder, Max, 20 
Lloyd, Harold, 21 
Loew^s Inc. (Metro-Goldwyn), 183 
Lohmann, Captain, 184 
London, 8, 49, 64, 79, 286, 266 

I^OPINO THE liOOP, 140 n. 

Lorre, Peter, 220; Illus. 48 

Lost Daughters, see Verlorenb Tochter 

Love Letters of Baroness S., see Liebes- 


Love Makes One Blind, see Liebe macht 


Love of Jeanne Ney, see Liebe der 

Jeanne Ney, Die 
Loves of Pharaoh, The, see Weib des 

Pharao, Das 
Love Tragedy, see Tragodie der Liebe, 


lower middle dass, see middle class 
Lubitsch, Ernst, 8 n., 28-24, 48-66, 66, 67- 

68, 72, 86, 86 n., 89, 128, 126, 135, 141 
LucREziA Borgia, 66, 66 n. 
Ludendorff, Erich, 86, 324 n., 282 
Luggage op Mr. 0. P., The, see Kofpeb 

des Herrn 0. F., Die 
LuiSE, KoNiGiN VON Preussen, 268-64 


Luise, Queen op Prussia, see I^uise, 

KoNiGiN VON Preussen 
Lukacs, Georg, 28" 
Lumifere, Louis, 16 

Lusts of Manicind, see Laster der 

Liixemburg, Rosa, 48 


M, 216, 218-22, 228, 224, 226, 249; lUus. 
47, 48, 49 

Mabuse, see Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler 
Macht der Pinsternis, Die, 106, 106 n. 
MacPherson, Kenneth, 176, 196 n. 
Madame Du Barry, 8 n., 48-49, 60, 68, 64, 

66, 67; lUus. 1 
Madchen in Uniform, 9, 226-29, 229 n., 

280, 281, 266, 271; lUus. 61, 62 
Madchen und die Manner, Das, 46 
Mad Love, see Sappho 
Maiden Mother, see Fraulein Mxttter 
Mandel, Georges, 804 
Manege, 140 

Mann, Heinrich, 192, 216-16 
Mann dee den Mord beging, Der, 264-66 
Mannerheim Line, 281, 804, 805 
Mannheim, 166 

Mann ohne Namen, Dee, 56 

Manon Lescaut, 161 n. 

Man's Girlhood, A, see Aus eines 

Mannes Madchenjahren 
Man spielt nicht mit der Liebe, 170 
Man Who Murdered, The, see Mann 

DEE DEN Mord beging, Der 
Man Without a Name, The, see Mann 

ohne Namen, Der, and Mensch ohne 


Man with the Movie Camera, The, 186 
March of Time, 289 




Marlowe, Christopher, 148 

Martin, Karl Heinz, 68 n, 

Martut Luther, 161 n. 

Marvels op Ski, see Wunder des Schmtee- 


Marxism, 28, 88, 107, 176, 190, 208, 242, 

247, 811 
masochism, 88, 122 

Master of Nuremberg, The, see Mexs^r 


May, Joe, 48, 66, 109 n., 168, 191 
May, Karl, 20 

Mayer, Carl, 61-68, 64r-66, 66, 70, 72, 78, 
74, 79, 96-106, 118, 119, 121, 126, 186, 
147, 166 n., 168, 176, 176, 177, 182-83, 
184, 187, 198, 217, 

Mehring, Walter, 209 

Meinert, Rudolf, 268 

Meisel, Edmund, 188 

Meister von NuRiTBERa, Der, 141 n. 

Mdli^s, Georges, 16, 16, 28 

Melodie der Welt, Die, 208-9, 210, 210 n., 

Melodie des Herzeks, 206 

Melody op the Heart, see Melodie des 

Men op Tomorrow, 229 n. 
Menschen am Sonsttao, 18^89 
Mensch ohne Namen, 212; Xllus. 48 
Menzel, Gerhard, 269 
Merry Frolics op Satax, The (original 

title: Quatre cents coups du Diable, 

Les), 28 
Messtcr, Oskar, 16-16, 28, 24, 86 
Metropolis, 149-^0, 160 n., 162-64, 248, 

272; lUus. 27, 28 
Metzner, Ernd, 194-96, 196 n., 197, 240, 


Michael, 128 

middle class, 8, 10, 11, 18, 22, 80, 88, 84, 
47, 69, 71, 84, 99, 108-9, 118, 119, 122-28, 
126, 132, 160, 167-68, 169, 170, 178, 179, 
189, 212, 218, 242, 244, 262, 271-72, 
292 n.; lower m. c, 11, 46, 96-97, 98-99, 
100, 102, 107, 169, 187, 189, 194-96, 197- 
98, 218, 217, 220, 222, 242, 246, 266. See 
also employees 


militarism, 68, 184, 229-81, 286 
military films, 189, 206, 206 n. 
Miracles op Creation, see Wunder der 


Miracles op the Film, see Wunder des 

Films, Die 
Miracles of the Universe, tee Wunder 

DER Welt, Die 

Mistress op the World, see Herein der 

Welt, Die 
Mittler, Leo, 197 
Mix, Tom, 20 
Moana, 289 

Modell von Montparkasse, Das, 141 n. 

Moeller van den Bruck, Artur, 109 

Moholy-Nagy, Laszlo, 211 n. 

Molifere, Tartufe, 147 

Molo, Walter von, 267 

Money Lies on the Street, see Geld 


montage, 121, 176, 185, 187-88, 208, 262, 

294, 297 
Monte Carlo, 62, 214 

Monte Carlo Madness, see Bomben auf 
Monte Carlo 


Moon op Israel, see Sklavenxonxgin, 

Moore, John C, 284 

MoRDER DiMiTRi Kaeamasopp, Der, 261- 

68, 262 
Morena, Brna, 24 


MoHGENROT, 269-70; Illus. 64 
MoRGENS bis Mitternacht, Von, 124 
MoRN TO Midnight, From, see Moroens 


Moscow, 169, 209, 288, 806, 806 n. 

Moscow Art Players, 109 

Mother, 178, 176, 196 

Mother Kielausen's Journey to Happi- 
ness, see Mutter Krausen's Fahrt ins 

Moulin Rouge, 140 

Mountain Cat, The, see Bergkatze, Die 
mountain films, 110-12, 119, 166, 166 n., 

267-68, 271 
Mrs, Warren^s Profession, 179 
Mude Tod, Der, 88-91, 93, 219; Illus. 9 
Mtiller, Renate, 218 
MuMiE Ma, Die, 48 
Munich, 68, 62, 111, 806 
Mumau, F. W., 78, 99, 102 n., 105, 106, 

128, 124, 186, 147, 148, 266 
music-hall films, 126-27, 140 
Mussolini, Benito, 280 
Mutter Krausen's Fahrt ins Gluck^ 

197-99, 242, 244 
mystery films, 19-20, 128, 189, 189 n., 206, 

206 n. 


Nacht Gehoet UNS, Die, 206 
Nana, 186 



Nauook, 289 

Napoleon, 151 n., 156, 261, 263-64 
Napoleox AtTP St. Heubka^ 161 n. 
Narcosis, tee Na&kose 
Nabkose, 191 n. 

NixtioncU Board of Revieto Magaaine, 106, 
122, 122 148, 228 

national films, 166-66, 260, 268-69, 271. 
See alto Fridericus films 

National Socialism, 6, 10, 11, 24-25, 29, 
62, 68, 77, 98, 94-95, 109, 112, 118, 181, 
168, 166, 160, 162, 164, 189, 190, 208-4, 
205, 206, 218, 224, 285, 242, 248, 247, 
248, 249-60, 264, 256, 267-58, 261-63, 
264, 267-68, 269-70, 271-72, 275-881; 
N. S. Party, 206, 219, 281, 800-8, 806. 
See also Hitler Youth, SA and SS 

Natuws Aim Love, see Natub xtitd Lxebe 

Natue xjin) LiXBEj 151-62 

Negri, Pola, 48, 50, 68, 186 

Nero (film company), 146, 219, 282, 289, 

Neubabdsberg, 17, 186, 161, 190 

Iffeve Preie Prease, 167 

Neue Sachlichkeit, see New Objectivity 

Neumann, Franz, 10 

«1914,*' 207 

New Objectivity, 165-67, 172, 181, 190, 

196, 211, 216, 282, 238-84 
newsreels, 22, 185, 198, 205-6, 275-77, 

281 n., 288 n., 286, 287, 288, 291 n., 297- 

98, 808-6, 807 
New Yeae's Eve, see Sylvbstbh 
New York, 8, 8n., 72, 102, 106, 149, 208, 

207, 248, 276 n., 277; YorkviUe district, 

281, 288 

New York Herald Tribune, 228, 264 
Nevj Torh Times, 276, 277, 296, 805, 805 n. 
NxBELTTKOENj DxE {part 7: Sieofbied; part 

lis KaxEMHiLD's Rache), 91-95, 97, 

149,219, 272; Illus. 10, 11 
Nielsen, Asta, 17, 20, 26-27, 80, 94 n., 109, 

128, 128 n., 144 n., 168, 168 n., 164, 168, 

170; Illus. 29 
NEEatANDSLAasT), 285-86, 271 
Nietasche, Friedrich, 91, 286 
Nns wiEDER LiEBE, 206 n. 
nihUism, 62-58, 66, 67, 98, 803 
Nju, 126, 265 
Noldan, Sven, 155 
Nora, 128 n. 
Nordisk, 22, 26, 86 

NosPEEATU, 77-79, 81, 84, 90, 107, 109, 

184; Illus. 5 
Noske, Gustav, 82 

Nuremberg, 141 n,; Party Convention 
of 1934, 95, 164, 258, 272, 290, 800^ 


Olimsky, Fritz, 182 

Owe Arabiau- Niokt, see Sumubtth- 

operetta films, 67, 68, 141, 207-8, 214 

C^huls, Max, 281 

Opium, 46 

Optjs I, 68 n. 

Oblac's HA2n>E, 154 n. 

Oser, Jean, 242 n. 

Oswald, Richard, 44, 46, 161, 207, 229 

Oswalda, Ossi, 128 

Otheb, The, see Akbere, Der 

Otten, Karl, 289 

Ottwalt, Ernst, 248 

Out of the Mist, see Sohn hzr Haoar, 

Otsxer Prin-cess, The, see Austerk* 

prinzessik, Die 
Ozep, Fedor, 261, 252 


Pabst, Georg Wilhelm, 5, 186, 165, 157, 
167-80, 181, 192, 196 ff., 205, 206 n., 216, 
282-86, 286»48, 260, 271 

Pabst, Rudolf, 47 

pacifism, 38, 62, 65, 156, 169, 284-86, 241- 

42, 260, 271 
Pakamx, 141 n. 

Pandora's Box, see Buchse der Pandora^ 

Panxk IK Chicago, 206 n. 
Panofsky, Erwin, 6 
Pakzeroewolbe, Das, 189, 189 n. 
Papen, Franz von, 269, 277 
Paramount, 188 

Paris, 8, 15, 16, 48, 51, 64, 76, 125, 140-41, 
141 n., 178, 174r.75, 177, 182, 204, 217, 
248, 254, 266, 280, 294, 295, 804, 807 
Parufamet agreement, 188, 184 
Passiom", see Madams Du Barry 
Path6 Frferes, 22, 28 
patriarchalism, 108, 115, 225, 228, 268 
Peak of Destin-t, tee Bebo des Schick- 


People ok Sukdat, see Mekschik am 


Perbucke, Die, 124 n. 
Peter der Grosse, 81 n. 
Peters, Karl, 57 

Peter the Great, see Peter deb GlaossE 
petty bourgeoisie, see middle dass, lower 
Phaktom, 124 

Phoebus (film company), 184, 265 
Pick, Liipu, 98, 101 n., 10i» 105, 106 n., 
136, 189, 139 n., 211, 239 



Piel, Harry, 2{f-26, 128 
Piscator, Erwin, 192 
Poe, Edgar Allan, 29 
Poirier, L^n, 155 

Poland, 169, 181, 264, 281, 284, 288, 291, 
294, 295, 804, 805, 806, 810, 824-27. See 
also Danzig emd Warsaw 

Pdlzig, Hans, 112 

Pommer, Erich, 65, 127, 135, 158, 190, 191, 

191 n., 205, 207, 208, 214, 216 
Popular Association for Film Art, 192- 

98, 194, 297 
Pordes, Victor B., 68-69 
Porten, Henny, 25, 50 n., 109, 128, 128, 

151, 188, 268 
Potamkin, Harry A., 75, 81 n., 126, 186, 

146, 169, 160, 168, 168 n., 172, 179, 199, 

215, 228, 282, 284-85, 288, 289 
PoTBMKKsr, 178, 178 176, 188, 289-90 
Potsdam, 226-28 

Power of Dabkitess, The, see Macht 


Prague, 28 flP., 81, 88, 58, 55-56, 61, 128, 

158, 196, 221 
Pexmaiterliebe, 161, 162 
pRiyATE Secretart, The, see Privat- 


Pbivatseicretarik, Die, 218, 215 
Projection-A. G, Union, 17, 22, 26, 86, 44 
proletariat, 181, 148-44, 151, 159, 176, 197, 

199, 214, 241, 242, 262, 811 
propaganda films, in pre-Hitler Germany, 

28, 58, 194, 206; under Hitler, 275-881 
prostitute figure, the, 119-20, 124, 167-60, 

164, 168, 177, 179, 195, 197-98, 287, 262 
Prouitx'u T102T, 44, 46 

Prussia, 28, 80, 116, 188, 166, 208, 226, 

228, 229-80, 268-69, 286 
psychoanalysis, 88, 114, 161, 170-72 
Pudovkin, V. I., 6, 178, 174, 176, 180, 

196 n., 198, 199, 241, 290, 292 
PtjpM, Die, 67 


QuEEK LmsE, see Kdxioix Luise 

quota certificate, 188 

quota films, 188, 186, 188, 182 

Quo Vadis, 20, 47 


Rahn, Bruno, 167, 158, 169 
Rakde der Welt, Am, 166 


Raskolitikow, 109 
Rasp, Fritz, 179, 225, 261; Illus. 60 
Rat of Paris, The, see Ratte vox Paris, 

Ratte von* Paris, Die, 141 n. 

RAt7BERBAXa>E, DxE, 160 

Rebel, The, see Rebell, Der 

rebel figure, the, 116, 117-18, 120, 122, 

128, 126, 126, 157, 168, 160, 162, 168, 

195, 218, 222, 228, 280, 247, 251, 252, 

268-65, 267, 261-62, 264r-66 
Resell, Der, 261-68; Illus. 61 
Repxtge, see Zuplttcht 
Reicher, Ernst (Stuart Webbs), 19, 128 
Reichmann, Max, 140 
Reimann, Walter, 68, 69 n. 
Reinhardt, Max, 17, 18, 28, 28, 48, 54, 76, 

86, 119 

Reiniger, Lotte, 128, 210 n., 211 n. 

Remarque, Erich Maria, 68, 190, 282 

Renoir, Jean, 186 

repertory company, 25, 26 n. 

retrogression, 88, 69, 118-19, 122, 128, 
162, 171-72, 218, 222, 228, 224, 242, 246, 
247, 268, 267, 270, 272, 278, 284 

Reutter, Otto, 16 

Reyolte m Erziehttxoshatts, 196 

Revolt in the Reforbiatort, see Re- 
volte XM Erzxehuitoshattb 

Rhine, the, 140, 819 

Rhythm 21, 68 n. 

Ribbentrop, Joachim von, 288 

Richter, Hans, 15 n., 68 n., 198-94, 198 n., 
194 n., 210 n., 211 n. 

Riefenstahl, Leni, 110, 267, 268, 262 n., 
278, 801; Illus. 62 


Robber Baitd, The, see Rauberbasde, 

Robison, Arthur, 118, 171, 172 
Robson, E. W. and M. M., 86 n. 
Rdhrig, Walter, 68, 69 n. 
romanticism, 79, 107-8, 141, 154, 166, 167, 

809, 826 
Rose Bwostd, 106, 106 n. 
Rosekkavalxer, Der, 151 n. 
Rotha, Paul, 8, 8n., 4, 4n., 76, 76, 108, 

184 ff., 147-48, 148 n., 156, 166 n., 158, 

176, 182, 184, 188, 188 n., 287, 266, 256 n. 
Rout of the Germcak Armies before 

Moscow, The, 805 
RoTAL Scandal, see Hose, Die 
Ruegg, August, 166 
Ruhr District, 819-20 


Russian films, see Soviet Russia 
Russian motifs on the German screen. 



109, 109X1., 14(0, 140 n., 174-75, 190-91, 

Ruttmann, Walter, 68 n., 94, 136, ISa-ST, 
192, 194, 195, 208-9, 210 n., 211 n., 216, 

Rye, Stellan, 29 n. 


S.A., 208, 224, 281, 292 n. 
Sachs, Hanns, 170 
Sade, Marquis de, 86 

sadism, 88, 74, 80, 179, 196, 217-18, 222, 

249, 257, 279, 291 
Sagan, Leontine, 226, 229 n. 
SA-Mann Bram-d, 292 n. 
Sappho, 106 n. 
Scandinavia, 87 
Schapiro, Meyer, 124 n., 166 
ScHATTEN, 118-14, 156, 171-72, 224; lUus. 


ScHATz, Dee, 167 
Scheler, Max, 82 

ScHEBjBEir, 98, 101, 102, 103, 104-6, 126, 

Schiller, Friedrich von, 18, 258 
ScHi3n>EiLHAir3rES^ 151 n. 


Schmalcnbach, Fritz, 166 
Schneeberger, Hans, 268 
Schnitzler, Arthur, Liehelex, 18, 281 
Schuman, Robert, 210 n. 


Schwarz, Hanns, 190, 191 n. 
ScHWAHZB HusAR, Dee, 268 
Sehwarze Korps, Das, 271 
ScH-WAne— Weiss — Gratt, 211 n. 
Scribe, Eugene, 107 

Secrets or a Soui, see Gehbimm'isse einer 

Seeber, Guido, 105, 190 n. 

Seeler, Morltas, 188 

self-pity, 99, 100, 198, 218, 268 

sex aims, 44-47, 189, 145 

Sex nr PErrEEs, tee Geschxecht in Fes- 


Shanghai Docxtment, 198 
Shatterep, see Scherbeit 
Shirer, William Berlin Diary, 804, 

Shock Troop 1917, see Stosstexjpp 1917 

Shuftan, Bugen, 149, 188 

SiEoER, HtJL, 214; lUus. 44 

Siegfried, see N'tBELiraroEN", Die 

SnsG iM Westek, 166, 267, 276, 276 n., 276, 

278-97, 298, SOMl 
Siffht and Bound, 276 277 

Siodmak, Robert, 188, 207 

Skandal ttm Eva, 286 

Skladanovsky, Max and Emil, 15 

Sklavekkonioin, Die, 128 n. 

Slums op Berlht, see Verrufeneit, Die 

Social Democracy, 10, 48, 59, 67, 71, 189, 

190, 194, 203, 242, 247, 271, 272 
socialism, 81, 87, 88, 46-47, 59, 71, 118, 

159, 163, 166-67, 170, 182, 187, 190, 192, 

198, 241-42, 268, 271 
SoHN DEE Haoae, Dee, 164-56 
So 1ST DAS Leben, 196 
SoKG or Life, see Lied vom Lebeit, Das 
Serge, Reinhard Johannes, Der Bettler, 


sound films of 1908-1909, 16 


South Germany, 108, 116 

Soviet Russia, 88, 68, 173, 174-76, 186, 
186, 234, 262, 277, 281, 296; S. film in- 
dustry, 6; S. films and film trends, 25, 
86, 174-76, 180, 185, 189, 198, 196, 196 n., 
284, 241, 281, 289-90, 292, 292 n., 293, 
802, 804, 806; reception of German films 
in S.R., 4; reception of S. films in Ger- 
many, 173, 178 n., 174-75, 176, 186, 192- 
93, 194, 196, 196 n., 197, 198, 199, 241- 
46, 252, 282, 289-90, 829. See also Mos- 
cow, Leningrad, Stalingrad 

Spain, 87 

Spartacus, 43, 82 

Speer, Albert, 307 

Speier, Hans, 279, 292 n., 298 n. 

Spengler, Oswald, The Decline of the 
West, 88, 101 

Spiders, The, see Spinneit, Die 

SpiKNEsr, Die, 66, 66 n^,. 66 

Spione, 160-61 

split personality (duality or mental dis- 
integration), 80-81, 84, 123, 168 
Spottiswoode, Raymond, 262, 262 n. 
Spy, The, see SpioijrE 
S.S^ 267, 271, 281 
Staaken, 186, 219 
StahJJielm, 166 
Stalingrad, 269 
Steikbr, Rudoijp, 107 


Sten, Anna, 261 

Stendhal (Marie Henri Beyle), 68, 79, 90 
Sternberg, Joseph von, 216, 217, 218, 223 
Stemheim, Carl, 146 
Stoker, Bram, Dracula, 77 
Stoxe EmER, The, see steinerke Reiter, 

Storm, Theodor, 106 
Storm over Asia, 196 n. 



SToasTtttrpp 1917, 286 

Strakoe GtaL, The^ see fremde Madchen, 

Stbasse, Die, 119-28, 124, 125, 182, 166, 

167, 168, 169, 186, 218, 222, 266, 272; 

lUus. 21, 22 
Strauss, Oscar, 141 
Street, The, see Strasse, Die 
street films, 157-60, 162, 164, 179, 187, 

190, 191, 196, 197, 215, 262-68 
Street Markets ik Berlik, see Markt 

AM Wittekberoplatz 
Stresemann, Gustav, 131 
Strindberg, August, 106 
Stroheim, Erich von, 7, 170 
Struggle for the Matterhorn, see 

Kampp ums Matterhorn, Der 
Struggle with the Mousttais-s, see 

Kampf mit DEsr Bergen, Im 
Student Prince, see Alt Heidelberg 
Student von Prag, Der (1918; main 

character: Baldwin), 28-Sl, 88, 84, 68, 
128, 221 

Student von Prag, Der (1926), 168 
Student von Prag, Der (1986), 168 
Sturmce der Lexdenschaft, 224 n. 


267 n., 269, 260, 262 n.; lUus. 69 
Sturm group, 68 

Such Is Life, see So ist das Leben 

Sudermann, Hermann, 24 

Svmurun, 18, 19, 60 

SuMURUN, 60, 62, 67, 86 

Sunken, The, see Gesunkenen, Die 

Sunrise, 256 

surrealism, 68 n. 

Sweden, film industry, 28; S. films, 74; 

reception of S. films in Germany, 78, 

80, 101, 102 n. 
Switzerland, 87, 61, 182 
Stlvester, 98-99, 100, 102, 108, 104, 106, 

112, 122, 182, 198, 218; lUus. 18 


Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, 179-80 
Tajiget for Tonight, 277, 288, 286, 287, 

289, 298, 828 
Tartuffe, 147-48, 182; Illus. 26 
Taxer gesucht, 207 n. 
Tauber, Richard, 208 
Tempelhof, 17 

Ten Days That Shook TBHB World, 290 
Terra, 264 

Testament des Dr. M abuse, Das, 84, 248- 

60. See also Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler 
Theodor Kobner, 266 n. 

TH^RfesE Raquin, 186 

Thief of Bagdad, The, 91 

Thiele, Hertha, 227, 229 n., 248; Illus. 62 

Thiele, Wilhelm, 207, 212, 213 

Things Will Be Better Again, see Es 


Three Days in the Guardhouse, see 

Drei Tage Mittelarrest 
Three of the Filling Station, The, see 

Drei von der Tankstelle, Die 
titleless narration, 102, 106, 118, 119 
Tobis, 204, 209, 286, 276 
Toller, Ernst, 64, 68 n., 192 
Tolstoy, Leo, The Power of Darkness, 106 
Tomorrow We'll Be Fine, see Morgen 

geht's uns gut 
Tontolini, 20 

torture, 49, 67, 67, 72, 77, 86, 86, 217, 267, 
272, 284 

totalitarianism, 164, 204, 218, 272, 276-831 
Tragedy op the Street, see Dirnen- 


Tragodie der Liebob, Die, 109 n. 


Treasure, The, see Sghatz, Dee 
Trenck, 265^6, 268 

Trenker, Luis, 110, 269-68, 271; Illus. 61 
Trial of Donaid Westhof, The, see 

Kampf des Donald Westhof, Der 
Trilby, 78 

Trip to the Moon, A (original title; 

Voyage dans la Lune), 28 
Triumph des Willens, Der, 96, 258, 

262 n., 278, 283, 290, 800-8; Illus. 12, 60 
Triumph of the Will, see Triumph des 

Willens, Der 
Trivas, Victor, 236 

Tsar's Courier, The, see Kuhier des 

Zaren^ Der 
Tschechowa, Olga, 128 n. 
Tschet, Konstantin, 262 
Two Brothers, see Britdeb Schellen- 

BERG, Die 

Two Hearts in Wajltz Time, see Zwei 


tyrant figure, the, 49, 60, 72, 77, 79, 80- 
81, 84r-86, 98, 161, 162, 168, 216, 248, 
267, 266. See also tyrant films 

tyrant films, 77-87, 96, 98, 107, 162 

Tyrol, the, 261 flf. 


t^BERFALL, 194r-96, 197, 242; Illus. 40 

Ucicky, Gustav, 264, 267, 269 

Udet, Ernst, 166, 268 

Ufa, 6 n., 86-87, 88, 47-48, 62, 66, 68 n.. 



79, 92, 115-16, 119, 188-84, 141-48, 147, 
148, 149, 160, 151-62, 166, 161, 166, 
171 n,, 172, 173, 174, 177, 186, 188, 190, 
191, 198, 194, 199, 207, 212, 218, 214, 
215, 224, 268, 264, 266, 269, 277, 297 

Ufa-Palast am Zoo, 48, 182 

Ukraine, 86, 177, 284, 802 

Ullman, James R., The White Tower, 
111 n. 

Ullmer, Edgar, 163 

Um DA8 Mekschexbzcht, 160, 292 n. 

Uin)£a A Hot Sttx^ see Unteb heisser 


Ukderwobid, 216 


miemployment, 10, 16, 48, 181, 197, 208, 

211, 212, 229, 289, 248-47, 272, 310 
U-9 WEDmoEsr, 166, 260 
UxoAHiscHE Rrapsodie, 191 n. 
Unholy IiOVE> see Aiaaune 
Union, see Projection-A. G. Union 
United Artists, 264 
United States, tee America 
Universal, 261 

Universum Film A. G., see Ufa 


Ukwelcome ChzldbexTj tee Kreuzzvo des 


VAansA, 79-^1, 86, 86, 91, 98 

VAHiiri, 4, 71, 126-27, 136, 140, 169, 176; 

Illus. 28, 24 
Variety, 267, 267 n., 269, 269 n. 
Vamett, tee Vari^tA 
Veidt, Conrad, 69 n., 70, 86, 126, 186, 264, 

268; lUns. 2, 8, 8 
Vebbttk, 166 
Vebitas Vintcit, 48 


Veeloheke Tochter, 44 
Vebhupenen-, Die, 148-44, 212 
VersaiUes, 124 n., 289-40, 241, 264, 263 

64, 290, 292, 298, 824, 826 
Vertov, Dziga, 186, 18ft-87 
Victor, The, tee Sieger, Deb 
Victory iir the West, see Sieo im 

Vienna, 141, 167, 207, 208, 281 
Viertel, Berthold, 124 n., 128 n., 182 
Vincent, Carl, 104, 196 
Violinist of Florence, The, see Geioer 

vosr Florenz, Der 
VoGELon Castle, see Schloss Vooelod 
Volksverband fiir FUmkunst, see Popular 

Association for Film Art 
Voltaire, 119, 268 

VoRMrrPAOsspiric, 194 


Vorwarts, 71, 116 
Voss, Richard, Eva, 18 
Vow OF Chaskty, see Gelubde deb 


WACHSPlOtmENKABlKETT, Das, 84-87, 89, 

272; lUus. 7, 8 
Wagner, Fritz Arno, 78, 114, 175, 288 
Wagner, Richard, 92, 98, 160 
Walden, Herwarth, Stwm, 68 
Waltz Dream, see Walzertraum, Eijt 
Walzerkrieo^ 207 
Walzerparadxbs, 208 n. 
Walzertraum, Ewr, 141 
Wandervogel, 46 

war films, 28, 86, 165-66, 207, 282-86, 260- 
64, 266 n., 269-70, 270 n., 271, 275-98, 
308-31. See also national and Fridericus 

Warm, Hermann, 68, 68 n., 69 n. 

Warner Brothers, 286 

WAB2riKo Shadows, see Schatxek* 

War op the Waltzes, see Walzehkbieo 

Warsaw, 291, 806 

Waschneck, Erich, 266 

Waterloo, 156 

Watts, Richard, Jr., 246, 246 n., 264, 

264 n., 269, 269 n. 
Waxworks, tee WACHapiGtrRENKAHHTETT, 


Ways to Health aitd Beauty, see Weoe 

ZTj Kraft und Schojtheit 
Weavers, The, see Webeb, Die 
Weber, Die, 146 
Weber, Max, 38, 124 n. 
Wedekind, Frank, 117, 161, 178-79 
Week End, 210 n. 

Wegener, Paul, 28-81, Sin., 82, 66, 62, 

80, 112, 153; lUus. 18 
Weoe zv Kraft und Schoniieit, 142-43 ; 

lUus. 26 
Weib des Phabao, Das, 60, 64 
Weill, Kurt, 286 

WEissE Holle von Piz Palu, Die, 166, 258 
WEissE Rausch, Der, 267 
Wells, H. G., 160 n. 
Weltkhieg, Deb, 166, 166, 207 
Wendhausen, Fritz, 164 
Westerns, 20 

Westprojtt 1918, 282-36, 242, 260, 271; 
Illus. 68 

Where's Love There's Dakoer, see Acn- 




White, Kenneth, 106 
white-collar workers, tee employees 
White Fbenzy, The, see weisse Rausch, 

Whito Heix op Pecse Palu, The, tee 
WEISSE Holle von Piz Palu, Die 

Whither, Germany?, see Kuhle Wampe 

Wieck, Dorothea, 227, 229 n. 

Wiene, Robert, 66-66, 67, 70, 96, 109, 
154 n. 

Wig, The, tee PEnarcKE, Die 
WiiJD DncK, The, see Wiudente, Dm 
WiLDEKTE, Die, 106 n. 
wader, Billy, 188 
Wilson, Woodrow, 61 
Windt, Herbert, 269 
Winsloe, Christa, Oestem und Heute, 

Woloa-Woloa, 140 n. 

Wolzogen, Brnst von, 19 

Woman's Awakening, see Erwachen 

DES Weibes, Das 
Women Engitufbd by the Abyss, see 

Frauen, die der Abgrund verschlingt 
WoNDERPUi. Lib op Nina Petrovna, The, 

see wunderbare Luge der Nina 

Petbowna, Deb 
workers, 9, 10, 11, 16, 80, 82, 67, 116, 

181-82, 148, 144, 149, 163-64, 169, 181, 

184, 189, 194, 197, 198, 207, 289--41, 

248-47, 282, 292 n., 811 
World Melody, see Melodie der Welt, 


World War, see Wbltkrieg, Der 
World War I, 8, 16, 19, 20, 21-26, 26, 

85-87, 88, 44, 46, 68, 62, 84, 111, 146, 
166-66, 169, 190, 191, 192, 207, 212, 
282-86, 240, 260, 264, 269, 282, 285, 810, 


Die, 190-91, 192 
wunder der schopfung, 152 

WUNDER DER WelT, DiE, 188 

Wysbar, Frank, 229 n. 


York, 264r-66, 266 

youth films, 160^2, 164, 216, 226 

Youth Movement, 117-18, 267 


Zelnik, Priedrich, 267 

Zille, Hehirich, 14IM4, 160, 197, 211, 228. 

See also Zille films 
Zille films, 148-44, 144 n., 146, 197-98, 

211 n., 212 
Zinneman, Fred, 188 


Zaberlein, Hans, 286 

Zola, £mUe, Germinal, 289 

Zuckmayer, Carl, 140, 229 

Zotxucht, 151, 199 

Zukhoff, Gregory, 294 

Zweig, Stefan, 191 n. 

ZwEi Herzbn im dreiviertel Takt, 207 

Passion: Tlu> threat of mass tionunattou. 

Cahgari: Insane authority. 

5. NosFERATU: The vampire, defeated by love, diisolvfs into thin air. 

G. Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler: Interpenetration of realistic and expressionist 
style, betraying the close relationship between Mabuse and Caligari. 

7. Waxworks: A phantasmagoria — Jack-tlie-RippiT pursuhig the lovers. 

8. Waxworks: Ivan the Terrible, an iitcarnation of insatiable lusts and unheard-of 

i). Destiny: The huge wall symholiziii*? l'"at<:'s inaiH-cssihilil y. 

10. Xibehtngen: Triumpii of the ornamental over the human. 

15. Thk Last Laugh: The revolving door— something hetween a merry-go-round 
and a roulette wheel. 

16. A Glass of Watkh: With its stress on synunetry the deeor breatlies romantic 

The Street: Mute objects take on life. 

The Sthket: This gesture- recurrent in uuiny German films is symptomatic 
of the desire to return to the maternal womb. 

'23. Vauikty: Jannings' bulky b;ick j)Iay.s a conspicuous role in the f)risoii sct^ne. 

24, Vahikty: The inquisitive camera breaks into the niagie eirch: of action. 

25. Ways to STitKNcrni and Bkatty: Tableau v/vatii of « Greek jjjymrmsiiuii. 

26. Tarti'ffk: The grand-style manner. 

27. Metropolis: Shain alliance between labor and capital. 

28. Metropolis: Ornamental despair. 

The Joyless Street: The ghastliness of real life. 

The Joyless Street: Realism, not symbolism. 

tiS. Secrets of a Soul: Dreams cineraatically externalized. 

34. The Love of Jeanne Ney: The orgy of anti-Bolshevist soldiery — a scene elic- 
ited from life itself. 

35. The Love of Jeanne Ney: The broken mirror, a silent witness, tells of glamour 
and destruction. 

36. The Love of Jeanne Ney: Casual conifigurations of life. 

39. Berlin: A close-up of the ^futter illustrates the harshness of mechanized life 

40. Accident: The use of distorting mirrors helps to defj" deep-rooted conventions. 

45, TnK Blvk AN(iEi.: Jatmings as the protcssor taunted by his pupils. 

46. The Blue Anoicl: Marlene Bictrich as Lola Lok— provocatifc legs mi »t* 
over-all impassivity. 

49. M : The group of crinnn/ils, beggars juid .street women sitting in judgment on 
the ehild-nnirderer. 

50. Kmil i-ND OIK Dktkktivk: Tht thief, n Pied Piper in reverse, pursued by th<' 
ohihlren nrider u radiant morning sun. 

MXnt iiKN ]N Uxu'oum: The h<'a<liui.str< ;i ftnnininc I<>ederirk the (yreat. 

Madchkn in Unh'-ouM: To prepare the audienee for tins scene, the staircase 
is leatured throiig:h(nit tJie Him. 

Wkstkuont H)1S: Field hospital filled witli moans and agonized erics. 

The Beggar's Opkra: Glass screens transform the crowded and smoky cafe 
into a confusing maze. 

55. Comradeship: Three German miners about to remove the iron fence set up since 

56. Comkadeship: German miners in the shower room — the audience is let into one 
of tlie arcana of everyday life. 

57. KuHLE Wami'E: Yoinig athletes at the Red sports festival which glorifies col- 
lective life. 

58. Eight Girls in a Boat: This film betrays the affinity of the earlier Youth 
Movement with the Nazi spirit.